You may have read or heard about the health benefits volunteering during retirement years can bring. From lower rates of depression to less incidence of heart disease, it’s widely accepted that senior volunteers have much to gain by sharing their time and talent with others.
So how can you connect with a meaningful volunteer project in your own community?
We have a few suggestions you might find useful.
Finding a Meaningful Volunteer Project During Retirement
If you’re a retiree searching for volunteer work, it helps to first consider your interests, strengths, and available time. Then take a thoughtful approach to exploring opportunities that you find interesting enough to stick with.
- Look at your schedule: Many people have a misconception that seniors have a lot of free time. While that can sometimes be true, others have very full calendars. Before you commit to any organization, take a look at your schedule and assess how much time you have to volunteer. Some charities seek volunteers for one-time projects or for recurring monthly events. Others need help on a daily or weekly basis.
- Self-reflection: It also helps to do a little self-reflection. Are there causes or organizations you’ve always been interested in but didn’t have time to learn more about when you were working and raising a family? This can be a good time to step outside your comfort zone and volunteer for a whole new group or organization.
- Location: Another factor to consider is where the organization is located. If you intend for this to be a long-term commitment, it might be important to find one that offers transportation or is located near public transportation. Should you decide to give up driving, you won’t have to leave your volunteer work behind.
When you are ready to start looking for specific volunteer projects, you will find a variety of options to help you make a meaningful connection. Depending upon your interests, you can always call an organization directly or contact your local United Way for suggestions. Other ideas you can explore include:
- Create the Good: This site is part of the AARP. They maintain a database of volunteer opportunities across the country. You enter your zip code to see what volunteer work is available near you. The site also allows you to sort opportunities by a variety of interests, including organizations looking for volunteers age 50 and up.
- Volunteer Match: Another easy way to find a local volunteer opportunity is through VolunteerMatch.org. You can search by category (including one just for seniors) and zip code to see what nearby organizations are looking for help.
Our final tip is to be patient. Non-profit organizations often operate on tight budgets. It can make them appear to be a little disorganized or behind the times. If you connect with an organization that interests you but your first few days on the “job” are a little bumpy, give it time. It’s often a sign of just how much they need the support of a willing and able volunteer.
If you are looking to share your time and talent with other older adults, Five Star Senior Living communities welcome volunteers. Please call the community nearest you to learn more!