Benefits of Volunteering

The benefits of volunteering at any age are well known. Volunteering helps give people a sense of community and that  feel good effect. And for seniors, volunteering may even improve cognitive skills. Moreover, older volunteers report lower mortality rates, lower rates of depression, fewer physical limitations, and higher levels of well-being.

 

According to a 2010 study from the Corporation of National and Community Service, over 18 million older adults (55 and older) contributed more than three billion hours of service in their communities. Older volunteers served in a variety of areas such as helping seniors remain in their homes, tutoring at schools and community centers, providing financial education and job training, and helping communities recover from disasters.

 

How to Volunteer

  • Identify your strengths and how you want to serve. If you worked in accounting your entire career, you may want to help people complete their tax returns. On the other hand, many older volunteers now want to try something different while still making a contribution. For example, are you outgoing and social? These qualities would translate well to a volunteer opportunity working at the information desk of your local hospital. Have you always enjoyed gardening? Call your local city government to find out if your town has a community beatification programs.
  • Pick a group or organization which you are drawn to. If you enjoy being around animals then call your local animal shelter to volunteer. Maybe you connect with older seniors–especially if you have lost your own parents. Contact the local chapter of the National Association of Area on Aging or Meals on Wheels to seek out volunteer opportunities. If you enjoy working with children, contact your local library or school district who may need your help with literacy or tutoring programs. Become a volunteer with CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates).  Volunteers advocate, within the court system, for the best interests of abused and neglected children. Churches are always in need of help whether by greeting people and serving coffee, to teaching Sunday school classes or leading a small group.
  • Get help to connect. There are a variety of online websites to help you find the right volunteer opportunity in your area. These sites list available positions and also allow you to filter areas of interest–from arts and culture, to beach clean-ups. VolunteerMatch, UN Volunteer, and Idealist are just a few of the online websites which can help you find the right volunteer position.
  •  Don’t over commit. Be realistic about how much time you are able and willing to give an organization. Do you want to work on a one-time basis (working the entry desk at a marathon)? Or, commit to an organization long-term (assisting at a women’s shelter once a week)?
  • Help from home. From making phone calls, to writing newsletters, there are many opportunities to volunteer working from the comfort and convenience of your home.

 

 

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