Volunteers come in all ages. While there are many opportunities for teens and adults, many are geared toward the elderly. Seniors have a lot of experience and, therefore, a lot to offer in many aspects of life.
In 2014, 10.7 million seniors spent 2 billion hours volunteering their time for many worthy causes. Continuing to work beyond the retirement years offers many benefits. It makes seniors feel needed, which boosts their self-esteem. It also reduces the risk of depression and dementia and boosts longevity.
Many seniors may think that they are incapable of volunteering because they have limited mobility or no transportation. These are no longer valid excuses. Many companies offer volunteer opportunities that seniors can perform at home. The only requirements would be a phone or Internet connection. You wouldn’t even have to get dressed – you can volunteer in your pajamas if you desire!
Of course, you’ll want to do something you enjoy doing. So, how do you go about finding the right opportunity? Here are some places to look and get started.
VolunteerMatch: This site offers more than 80,000 volunteer opportunities, so you’re bound to find something that interests you. You can search by causes, such as animals, children, environment, health, hunger, and homelessness. You can search by your location or search for virtual opportunities. No matter what skills you possess, you’ll find something that you can do. There are many opportunities for administrative work, editing, graphic design, and social media management. Use the search function and select “suitable for 55+” so you get results for gigs that are geared toward seniors.
Help from Home: This site offers opportunities that are 100% virtual. All of these opportunities are micro-tasks that take just a few minutes of your time – no more than 30 minutes. You won’t have to leave your home. You can perform tasks such as taking surveys, signing petitions, and proofreading pages – all which benefit worthy causes. There is no commitment required, and you can volunteer on your own terms – whenever you feel like it.
Use your handyman skills. Just about every organization can benefit from someone who has carpentry skills. You can use your knowledge to build shelters for the homeless, put in electrical fixtures, or remodel a facility. The opportunities are endless.
Use your creativity. If you have a background in writing, graphic design, photography, or music, there are many organizations who can use your knowledge. VolunteerMatch is a great way to find these opportunities.
Use your professional skills. Maybe you can’t build anything or carry a tune in a bucket but you’re great at marketing or possess strong accounting skills. Many non-profits covet these skills as well. If you’re not ready to give up the skills you learned in your decades of working, find out how you can use them for the greater good. Volunteering is a great way to keep your mind sharp.
Enjoy the great outdoors. The National Parks Service offers many opportunities for those who enjoy working outside with people. Volunteers are needed for information desks, tours, campground hosting, and more. Some positions offer perks. To see what positions are available, you can find information on the website of the park where you’d like to volunteer.
Work with kids. There are many children who are missing an influential figure in their lives. There are also many who suffer from serious diseases and need someone to brighten their day. Many just need help with school work. If you enjoy working with kids and want to make a difference, you can do so in many ways. You can spend time reading with a child or helping with homework. You can play games with them and tell jokes or funny stories. You can even go beyond this and act as their mentor. The time you spend with them will make a positive impact on their lives.
Work with animals. Many animal lovers gravitate toward opportunities to help unwanted and abandoned animals. Contact your local animal shelter to see how you can help. You may be able to feed animals, clean out cages, help with adoptions, or purchase food for shelter animals.
There are many more ways you can make a difference to an organization in need. If none of these ideas strike your fancy, you can always create your own opportunity. Just look for a problem in your community and find a way to solve it. It’s a great way to connect with others.