Retirement is an excellent opportunity to do the things you didn’t have time to do while working a 9–5 desk job. One of those things might be volunteering. Many retirees find that offering service and time is a fulfilling effort, a great source of continuing social interaction in a helping capacity. It’s an excellent way to give back to the community, and volunteering during retirement can provide structure that many retirees miss without the heavy demand of a full-time job.
Volunteering during retirement allows retirees to display a vivacity that doesn’t diminish just because they’re getting older, and because the kinds of volunteer work available are so diverse, there is something for just about everyone. Is there a cause you feel strongly about? Are there programs that lean toward your strengths? If you have considered volunteering during retirement, these questions are a good place to start. If you still draw a blank, we have eight volunteering opportunities to consider.
Habitat for Humanity
Habitat for Humanity has outreach programs across the world. To achieve their goal of everyone having a place to live, Habitat volunteers work with people in the community to build simple and affordable housing for those who need shelter. Recipients and volunteers alike build the structures together, building up the community and homeowners’ self-reliance in the process. The program also renovates existing homes as the need arises.
Because their reach is so broad, you are not likely to need to go very far from home in order to find Habitat for Humanity units or teams. However, if you like the idea of going on the road, that capacity is also available. If you have a group of friends considering volunteering during retirement, you might do so together, whether at home or exploring a new city.
Meals on Wheels
Since 1954, Meals on Wheels has been reaching out to seniors across the United States to prevent hunger and malnutrition. Millions of volunteers, many of them retired, help to deliver meals so that almost 2.4 million seniors annually have food to eat and a friendly face to connect with. Local food banks have similar goals and can always use volunteers as well.
If you are looking for a more unconventional form of volunteering, consider being a docent or tour guide. If you love a local art gallery, museum, or zoo, there may be opportunities to tell others about why the place is so interesting. Campgrounds too often recruit people to supervise sites. If you live the RV lifestyle, consider doing a service as you enjoy the great outdoors.
Finding Fellowship in Furry Friends
Are you an animal lover? Animal shelters and humane societies may be a great fit for you. Volunteers can help take care of animals, explore fundraising activities, and assist in administrative tasks. This is an especially good option if you live in a community or facility that does not allow pets.
Assisting Military Personnel
Especially if you are a veteran yourself, spending time assisting troops, military families, and other veterans may be an appealing option. Programs like Wounded Warrior and Soldier’s Angels provide volunteer options to help veterans and military families, respectively, and the VA is a good resource to discover how you can help.
Caring for the Kids
If you prefer the company of pert first graders to the disciplined demeanor of servicepeople, there are plenty of volunteer opportunities that focus on working with children. From children’s hospitals to under-funded schools, millions of kids in America need kid adults. If you are missing your grandchildren or still waiting for them to arrive? The Senior Corps Foster Grandparent program connects volunteers 55 and older with children in schools, Head Start centers, and other youth facilities.
While this kind of volunteering during retirement is much more difficult to plan for and (hopefully) does not provide a steady call on a retiree’s time, emergencies do arise and disasters do happen. When they do, those affected are grateful for any help they can receive. Those living in Hurricane Ivan’s wake, for example, have been grateful for those who have come to their aid.
The services needed vary depending on the emergency, but those with medical experience or who have worked in construction before are not often turned away. Volunteers after a disaster may be needed to help bail water, lay sandbags, donate or make clothing, provide medical assistance, or administer food.
If you have a political bent, supporting a campaign or helping in a legislative office can be a way of volunteering during retirement to do something you believe in. Even if you are not very politically active, there are still opportunities for those wanting to try something new in support of the nation.
Volunteering during retirement is a fulfilling way to spend one’s time after the corporate grind is done. We have focused here on options that call for retirees to give their time and energy to help a cause or demographic. If that is not your cup of tea, all of the groups mentioned here can also benefit from financial gifts. There are always worthwhile ways to give back and pay it forward.