If retirement is a challenging transition for you, you’re not alone. Volunteering is a great way to maintain a sense of purpose and belonging. You’ll meet new people, learn new skills, and perhaps uncover talents and interests you never knew you had. Who knows, it could be the most rewarding work of your life. Plus, you get to set your own schedule, participating as much or as little as you’d like.
The organizations that need your help are endless. This list is a good place to start:
Your Association. Most likely your retiree association needs your help with events, office work, scholarship administration, political action, and more. Reach out to them to see how you can pitch in.
Senior Corps. Tutor or mentor disadvantaged youth, troubled teens or young mothers; help renovate homes; organize neighborhood watch programs; or empower seniors to keep living independently.
National Park Service. If you’re a nature lover or history buff, here’s your chance to give back and get plenty of fresh air. Perks include meals, a stipend, plus an annual pass to all federal parks if you volunteer 250 hours or more.
Musicians on Call. If you sing or play an instrument, you can help bring the healing power of music to hospitalized patients and their families. If you’re a music lover but not a musician, you can be a guide to escort performers to patients’ rooms.
Road Scholar. Love to travel? This is a way to see the world and change it at the same time. Volunteer at a community water project in Nicaragua, the Navajo Nation Schools in Arizona, national parks of the Potomac River, or teach English in India.
Global Volunteers. Help provide healthcare, childcare, computer literacy, or nutrition education. Volunteers are welcomed into homes, classrooms, clinics, community centers, hospitals, orphanages, childcare centers, libraries, and farm fields worldwide.
Peace Corps. This organization is seeking volunteers 50+. Your service can last anywhere from three months to two years. Choose the country and type of work you’d like to do; it need not be physically challenging.
Habitat for Humanity. Help those in need of shelter build and renovate housing. Many retirees travel by RV to volunteer at various locations across the country. In addition to affordable housing, you’ll also build friendships that last a lifetime.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. Here’s your chance to be an adult role model a young person desperately needs. Choose among community-based programs, children of military families, school-based programs, or kids with incarcerated parents.
Your local hospital. Hospitals have many ways for retirees to give back. This is a great fit for those with medical experience but not required. Administrative support, patient greeters, and pastoral care are needed. Call your hospital or visit their website.
Meals on Wheels. Ten million senior Americans face the threat of going hungry. If you’re unable to deliver meals, you can still serve by communicating with homebound people to let them know they’re not alone or forgotten.
American Red Cross. Assist with first aid, education, administrative support, crisis relief, blood drives, helping veterans and active military, fundraising, marketing, public affairs, communication or translation.
Your local public library. Libraries often need volunteers to teach reading, writing, computer skills, or English a second language. You might also serve as a community ambassador or help with special programs or events.
Internal Revenue Service. Don’t laugh. This is an excellent way to learn how to prepare taxes while making a difference in the lives of low-income families and seniors needing tax consultation and preparation.
However you choose to spend your retirement, volunteering is worth looking into, not just for yourself but for all those whose lives you’re helping to change.