For older adults, volunteering can be a rewarding way to socialize, give back to the community, and share their experience and talents. But not everyone who’s interested in donating their time knows how to get involved. Here’s how to get started and find some great volunteer opportunities.
First, assess how much time you’d like to dedicate to volunteer activities each week or month, and whether there are any specific days and times that work best. Then make a list of any particular skills, expertise, or knowledge you have that might be useful, or any organizations or activities you’re particularly interested in. All this information will help you narrow down your options and find volunteer opportunities that are a good fit. Be aware that some groups may require you to complete an application and undergo an orientation or training. There may even be background checks, if you will be working with children or in certain roles.
Common Ways to Volunteer
Often, the easiest way to volunteer is through a group or organization you’re already a part of. If you’re a member of a church or are still involved with your alma mater (or those of your children or grandchildren), call the office and ask if they can use you. You could also get involved with a service organization such as AmeriCorps Seniors, Rotary International, or Lions Club. Local homeless shelters, women’s shelters, animal shelters, and food pantries will almost always welcome additional volunteers, since they run on shoestring budgets. Just call or check their website for information.
If you’re not sure how to find or connect with volunteer opportunities that are a good match, check out the VolunteerMatch website. Just input your location and select the types of volunteer work you’re interested in. JustServe is another volunteer connection site, while Encore.org focuses on helping people over 50 mentor and inspire younger volunteers. AARP also has volunteer roles for seniors throughout the U.S.
Help Your Local Community
If you’d like to see your efforts benefiting your local community, Habitat for Humanity has all kinds of volunteer tasks – whether you’re a skilled craftsman, can provide manual labor on a construction site, or can help out in one of their resale shops. You could also help youth in your area through Big Brothers Big Sisters.
The volunteer opportunities are virtually endless, and any time you can lend a hand to an organization will be welcomed. But you’ll likely find that you get just as much out of the experience, as you meet new people and see how your efforts benefit others. For more ways to stay active and engaged during retirement, check out our other posts on the Brightwater Senior Living blog.