Now that you have retired or see retirement coming closer on the horizon, you might be wondering what to do with all of that time you will have to kill. One great way to spend all that newfound free time is to volunteer your services to your community. As a soon-to-be-retired person myself, I know that volunteer work is something I really want to do. But where does one start? As a full time worker since I was 18 years old, I am not familiar with all the places that one can volunteer. So, once again, I did my research, and I came up with how you can go about finding volunteer work for retirees, and I’ve given you a few hints on how to get started and what to do going forward, when you start your volunteer assignments.
Places You Can Start
Senior Corps Programs: “Senior Corps is a network of national service programs for Americans 55 years and older, made up of three primary programs that each take a different approach to improving lives and fostering civic engagement. Senior Corps volunteers commit their time to address critical community needs including academic tutoring and mentoring, elderly care, disaster relief support, and more.” From NationalService.gov
The Senior Corps includes Foster Grandparents, Senior Companions and RSVP. Foster Grandparents is a mentoring program to help out as role models and mentors of children with extenuating circumstances. Senior Companions provide assistance and friendship to seniors who have difficulty with daily living tasks, such as shopping or paying bills. The program aims to keep seniors independent longer, and provide assistance to family caregivers. RSVP is one of the largest volunteer networks in the nation for people 55 and over. You can use the skills and talents you’ve learned over the years, or develop new ones while serving in a variety of volunteer activities within your community.
National Park Service: If you love nature, then this is your calling! The National Park Service is a great place to volunteer for project building, tour guiding, nature lecturing, helping with children’s activities, helping with historic preservation, and just about anything you can think of inside our National Parks and Monuments. Click here for my information on leisure activities and park passes in our National Parks.
Musicians on Call: Musicians On Call brings music to the people who need it most – hospital patients. They bring live and recorded music to the bedsides of patients in healthcare facilities. By delivering live, in-room performances to patients undergoing treatment or unable to leave their beds, they help with the healing process. If you play an instrument or can sing, and love to do so, here is where you can share your talents.
AARP Foundation Experience Corps: “Experience Corps matches a critical need with a vital resource … Struggling inner-city children need help with their studies and more adult attention. Older citizens have time on their hands and skills to share. Put the two together and you have a powerful combination that works wonders for all involved.” From The Minneapolis Star Tribune
Road Scholar, Volunteer Vacations: I have heard recently that some college students, instead of heading to the beach for Spring Break, are doing volunteer vacations instead. Friends of mine, Chiropractic students, went on a Spring Break to Peru, and helped administer chiropractic care to native Peruvians. Many Spring Breakers went to New Orleans to help clean up and rebuild after Hurricane Katrina. Road Scholar is an organization that helps find those opportunities for willing volunteers. Road Scholar, formally Elderhostel, puts together
Your Public Library
Helping Troops, Military Families, and Veterans
Docent or Tour Guide for parks and museums
Humane Societies, Animal Shelters, and Animal Rescue
Search and Rescue
Your Local Hospital, clinic, or nursing home
Some Thoughts Before You Volunteer
Commit: You will want to treat volunteer work like a job. Go every day you are scheduled, and be on time. There is nothing worse for an organization than waiting on a volunteer that doesn’t show or is late.
Be open-minded: There might be aspects to a volunteer assignment that you had not thought of, or tasks you can volunteer for that hadn’t occurred to you before. Take a chance and learn something new. Ask for all the alternatives. You might find something you never thought of that can be fulfilling.
Capitalize on your background: Unless you want to do something different from what you did during your lifelong career, it’s good to highlight your current skills. Use your experience to draw on when you are thinking of things you can volunteer for. If you were in the restaurant business, Meals on Wheels might be your gig. If you were an administrative assistant, community organizing might be something you can do.
Try before you buy: Do not commit your time until you are sure that the volunteer task is something you will enjoy and that it’s not too difficult to fulfill. Perhaps volunteer on a trial basis before you commit to a set day or hour.
Start small: Retirement is a time when you might want to slow down. You don’t want to jump from one full-time-plus-overtime job into another. Maybe start with one or two hours per week, and build on that if you want to.
Take a friend for support: There is nothing more fulfilling than doing volunteer work as a couple or as a family, or as a group of friends. I know of a family that serves Thanksgiving Dinner every year at the Salvation Army. They have the best time together doing it, and they gain a lot of fun memories as a family when they all participate.
Don’t settle for anything boring or unpleasant: Some tasks aren’t for everyone. If it’s work you hate, you won’t be fulfilled by it, and you will regret committing to it. But if you don’t mind the job, do it with gusto and understand that you are helping the greater good by doing this mundane task.
As a newbie, you probably won’t get the best position right away: Ask about the tiers of experience or seniority. Ask about what the chances are in getting promoted to the job that you really want to do, and find out what is required to move up the ladder.
Get training: Many volunteer organizations provide training for people new to the organization. If there is no training available, seek a mentor, or find a class to take that will gain you the skills needed or required.
Be aware that volunteer work means you will likely not be paid for the work you will be doing. However, there are plenty of perks you can get from volunteering. Incentives for working with the National Parks Foundation, as an example, include free admissions to parks and monuments, and getting to spend all your time outdoors. Other organizations provide uniforms. Some give stipends for meals and lodging. You will get that warm feeling of helping out, plus a little extra for your trouble.
Think really hard about donating money vs. time: Remember that as a retiree, you are most likely on a budget. If you can afford to give a monetary gift, that’s great. However, for those of us without a good retirement nest egg, giving of one’s bank account is not as easy. Be prepared, because some organizations put a heavy emphasis on donating money, and you will want a strategy in case things get too demanding.
Do Affiliate Marketing
I of course am an advocate for retirees learning affiliate marketing. This is something you can start in your spare time that will bring in extra cash for all of your retirement needs, including all the causes you want to donate to, and all the charity work you want to be doing. And of course the best place to learn affiliate marketing is at Wealthy Affiliate. See my review and other articles by clicking below.
So, I’ve given you some great places to start your volunteer work as you retire, and some hints to make it more enjoyable and easier to accomplish. So, go forth and find a great place to donate your time and energy, and help out those less fortunate than you.
Please put your comments and questions below, and thank you for reading!