The many health benefits of volunteering your time to a worthy cause later in life have been well established. From forging new social connections to combat loneliness and isolation to help you stay physically and cognitively sharp, volunteer opportunities for seniors provide more than just a productive way to spend time during retirement.
If you are new to volunteering, however, it can be intimidating to figure out how to get started. If you’re interested in finding senior volunteer programs and opportunities, here are some suggestions for where to begin.
Volunteer Opportunities For Seniors
While it can be rewarding to find small, local organizations in need of volunteers in your community, larger, national organizations also can provide positive volunteer experiences for older adults. There are a variety of organizations that need help on the local level, including:
Big Brothers, Big Sisters of America
If you love working with children, Big Brothers, Big Sisters of America could be a great opportunity for you. There is no age limit on mentors who want to work with kids, and the main requirement for serving as a Big is consistency and commitment for at least one year. The organization “seeks to change the lives of children facing adversity between 6 and 18 years of age,” and accepts volunteers of all walks of life, faiths, and backgrounds from every corner of the country.
American Red Cross
If you’re looking to make a big impact in the lives of others, the American Red Cross is a great place to start. There are a variety of volunteer opportunities for seniors at the American Red Cross, including crisis work to aid people who have been hit by disasters, help with fundraising efforts, and blood drive assistance.
Food insecurity is a serious concern in this country, with about 1 in 8 people in the United States struggling to figure out where their next meal will be coming from. Feeding America is a wonderful organization that will connect you to participating food pantries in your community to help provide food and meals to those in need. Feeding America acknowledges that “every volunteer experience is a little different, for example, food banks could need your help sorting and packing food, gardening, or educating the community. [But] each experience is critical in helping get healthy meals to families facing hunger.”
If you want to volunteer your time to help veterans, Veteran’s Affairs is the best place to start. VA facilities across the country rely on volunteers to help support our veterans. The VA estimates that each year “over 75,000 volunteers give more than 11 million hours in service to America’s veterans,” which helps to provide greater levels of care and reduce costs for the government at the same time.
Consider Volunteer Vacations
In addition to volunteering your time with nonprofits in your neighborhood, you can also plan volunteer vacations that allow you to travel to other countries and use your time to help others. Organizations like the Discover Corps provide travelers with the ability to travel to exotic locations and connect with the local communities and people there. According to their website, volunteer vacations provide you with the opportunity to sit “side-by-side with local people, nature, and wildlife and embed you into the fabric of a different society, allowing you to discover a country as an insider.”
There are many great causes that you can dedicate your time to, and if you get to see the world in the process, then it’s a win-win. Since many people love to travel in their retirement, volunteer vacations allow you to have the best of both worlds and cross something off of your bucket list in the process.
The Importance of Giving Back
No matter your age, dedicating your time and energy to those in need is a valuable experience and important to supporting the greater society. Whether you join senior volunteer programs, take a volunteer vacation, or forge your own path when it comes to giving back, it really is the thought that counts. Medical Guardian is a big believer in giving back to the community around you, and we organize regular volunteer outings for our staff. Learn more about the ways in which Medical Guardian is giving back on our blog.