One way you can enrich your life in retirement is by volunteering. The time you spend can have a lasting impact on the community - and if you find the right fit, it can be a really fun way to spend your days.
Volunteering provides several benefits, and not just to the organizations you serve. Giving your time and skills to help others helps you stay physically and mentally active. It puts you in closer contact with your local community and provides much needed social contact. Many retirees have even said their volunteer work provides a sense of purpose in their lives.
Volunteering for Seniors - Finding the Right Fit
If you’re just getting started with volunteering, the first question is, where? With so many nonprofits and charities in need of help, there’s a wealth of opportunities available - you just need to choose one!
Start by tuning into your passions, talents, and skills. Doing so will help you find something that’ll make you happy (and that you’ll be more likely to stick with). Many non-profit organizations value older adult volunteers because they bring so many skills and life experiences to their work.
So, think about your talents or the skills built during your working years - how can you apply them in new ways to help others? For example, if you like to paint, you could volunteer to help paint set backgrounds at a local theater. If you’re a graphic designer, you might offer to create marketing materials for fundraisers.
Keep in mind, some organizations are super laid back, while others may have more formal requirements. You may have to undergo a few hours (or several) of training. They may require paperwork including a driving record or criminal background check.
Make sure you understand the process and consider how much time and effort you’re willing to give to a particular project. If possible, start with a few preliminary sessions before you overcommit.
Ideas for Volunteering in Retirement
There are plenty of well known aid organizations that have extremely active and established volunteer programs, such as Habitat for Humanity, Meals on Wheels, American Red Cross, and Big Brothers, Big Sisters. Alternatively, you may want to devote your time to serving political campaigns you believe in or work with organizations that help troops, military families and veterans.
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Colorado alone is home to over 25,000 nonprofits working to better their communities. Schools, hospitals, libraries, and soup kitchens are all outlets where you can offer your availability locally. If you’re looking for other interesting and off-the-beaten-path volunteering ideas, why not become a:
- Sports coach
- Art teacher
- Music teacher
- Museum docent
- Local tour guide
- Foreign language or English as a Second Language teacher
Or donate your time to a local:
- Nature park or wildlife preserve
- Botanical garden
- Recycling center
- Neighborhood cleanup committee
- Religious center
- Animal shelter
- Women’s rights organization
There’s a whole world of opportunity out there - literally - for retirement-aged folks who are looking to volunteer abroad. If you’re a bit more adventurous, service abroad could be a great way to quench your thirst for adventure while making a difference.
Did you know retirees can join the Peace Corps? There’s a new initiative to attract volunteers over 50. And this Canadian used the online platform Workaway to travel around the world from one volunteer opportunity to the next.
Help from Home
For anyone with limited mobility or transportation, there are ways to help without leaving your home! You can mentor students online, make fundraising calls, foster animals, offer administrative help, or become a host family to an exchange student. DoSomething.org includes a list of organizations looking for remote volunteers.
Get Active for a Cause
You can run, cycle, swim, or walk for charity in many cities across the country, for almost any cause you can think of. Whether you sign up with a group, your partner, or by yourself, getting the body moving is great for you in retirement, and your participation is great for the community - it’s a win-win. RunGuides has a handy list of all fundraising walks and runs in the Denver area (and you can filter by other cities as well).
If you’re still not sure where to start, there are several services that will match you with organizations in need of volunteers. The AmeriCorps Seniors RSVP program pairs thousands of Americans over 55 with volunteer opportunities across the country. VolunteerMatch.org is another tool that helps connect volunteers to organizations doing meaningful work through an online search tool. It’s free, but you have to create an account to view opportunities.
For an extensive list of volunteer opportunities in Denver, the city’s website has you covered.
Building a Retirement You’ll Love
The point of retirement isn’t making it to the finish line with the most money, or just making sure you find something to fill the hours. It’s about enjoying your life to the fullest, and volunteering can play a key role in that. At Wealth Legacy Institute, we believe there’s a lot more to a satisfying retirement than having adequate resources. Retirement can be a chance to reinvent your life!
If you’re ready to explore questions like “What happens after your last day of full-time employment? What do you plan on doing the rest of your life?” and “What is your next adventure?” you need to read Retirement Secrets. You'll read real success stories from retirees, gain preparedness strategies, and get started on the road to building a retirement you’ll love.