Where Can I Volunteer?
Life has been good to you. You may have a partner and children, and even grand children who all love you dearly. You have some of the best and dearest friends that only age, patience and time can offer. You worked some of your best years, perhaps in corporate America, perhaps in a blue-collar setting. The point is that you dedicated years of your life to a thing, to a job, a purpose, and you were all the better for it. Hopefully your work enriched your life, it made an indelible impression upon you, just as you made an impression upon those around you.
Time has passed, and now you are a little older. But that does not mean you have to slow down (except to smell the roses, of course. You always have to take time for the little things). Whether you are retired or soon to be retired, there are opportunities aplenty to keep busy. One good way to go about it is as a volunteer.
Although a few of these programs are regional, volunteering boomers are popping up all over the country.
This is a fantastic program for those of you in the Dallas area, that pairs low-income seniors with disadvantaged, troubled or disabled kids. You can spend up to 40 hours a week with kids from all over, providing the love, attention and kindness that these kids need. The program does provide a small stipend, which should not interfere with any other benefits you receive, so if you have ever wanted to connect with younger generations or to maybe work with kids when you yourself have none, this makes for a perfect volunteer opportunity.
This is another Dallas-based volunteer program that goes to the other end of the spectrum. Sadly, not all seniors are as able or mobile as you. However they are just as deserving of respect and dignity as anyone. With this program, you can help tend to their basic needs as well as provide the warmth and friendship that they are sorely lacking. This program keeps those in its care 'out' of retirement communities and nursing homes, so not only are you fostering a new friendship with those with whom you work, you are also fostering independence and self-reliance as well.
Situated in Portland, Oregon, the opportunity afforded by this program lets you share your warmth, integrity, experience and imitable strength of character to those who need or want someone in the twilight of their lives. Sadly, not everyone in a hospice environment has someone to spend time with them. You can be that someone and help make their last days all the brighter.
There are volunteer opportunities all over in this most valuable of organizations. For the most active among you, who are willing to help out not just one or two people but a whole lot, this is one of the best ways to do it. As a Disaster Action Team member, you help by responding to whatever disaster befalls your fellow citizens, young and old alike. From a small house fire to a flood, there is no help too small or too great to give. Sometimes, all that is needed is a hug. People need to feel validated, to know that others care for their welfare. For volunteer opportunities specific to seniors, the Red Cross lists several that should interest you.
For the more technologically savvy among you, the Internet is a wonderful place to find out about all sorts of other opportunities in your local area. It all just boils down to what you are willing and able to do, and how long you are willing to do it. Whatever it is, volunteering promises to be one of those most rewarding and memorable experiences of your life. You seriously have nothing to lose and everything to gain. One thing to remember is that, as a viable and valid member of society and your community, you have a whole lot to offer. Just because you are not working anymore is no reason to stop giving back. The personal enrichment alone is worth its weight in gold and volunteering really can take you in directions you may have never imagined for yourself. For example – take a retired manager for a food packaging company who ends up tutoring and mentoring underprivileged kids and their folks. That's a 180°turn that most never picture.
Baby boomer volunteers present such a great target that a Get Involved.Gov even went so far as to conduct a study on who volunteers in your age range, based on age, whether or not they own their own home or a business, whether or not they are college educated, right down to their gender. It's pretty impressive stuff. And they know what you know, that your ability and knowledge is as invaluable now as when you were in the workforce. So go on, get out there and make a difference!
Author: Sheila Martin
Publish Date: Thu, 02/24/2011 - 12:44