Most seniors, after decades of raising kids, pursuing careers and tackling other tough responsibilities, look forward to their sunset years. The typical dream is relaxing on sunny beaches, leisurely watching the waves and sipping well-earned drinks. After a few months of doing nothing, many seniors realize that retirement shouldn’t be the end of an active life. Today, most 65-year-olds can look forward to another 20 or more productive years.
Use those years to help others: Volunteering is a satisfying way for retired seniors to contribute valuable skills and experiences to their communities and beyond. There are hundreds of opportunities available, from serving a meal at a local homeless shelter to a summer of rebuilding storm-damaged homes with Habitat For Humanity.
My volunteer history: Within a few weeks after I retired at age 65 in 1990, I started what became a 20-year commitment. I volunteered daily in senior activities at a major city community center. Some my duties involved my career experiences from 40 years in public relations, art, teaching and sports.
I taught classes in art, literature and history. I conducted swimming and lifesaving training in the center’s pool. I booked and escorted seniors to theaters, museums and group trips. I wrote, photographed, designed and published the center’s monthly newsletter. Throughout those years, it was satisfying to offer a lifetime of experiences to help others.
Get started: If newly retired and unfamiliar with volunteering, begin your community efforts with something easy and short-term. Check with local schools, hospitals and organizations for one-day or weekend tasks. It could be a church rummage sale, delivering holiday meals to homebound elderly or handing out voter information at the mall. If, after those experiences, you’re ready for longer commitments, scan the internet for national and international organizations with projects that interest you.
Rewards: During working careers, people get their rewards from paychecks and the material things they can buy. For volunteer retirees who continue working to improve their communities, the rewards are at least as satisfying in knowing they’re helping those in need.
More from this contributor:
First Person: 5 Ways Volunteering Helped My Career
Ways for College Students to Volunteer During Winter Break
Volunteer Community Service Vacations