By Bernard Freeman
Without a regular job to go to, many retirees find themselves with lots of time to volunteer in their community.
Many community organizations need volunteers who are available during working hours or who have the flexibility to travel for days or weeks at a time. How Stuff Works had a number of suggestions for best ways for seniors to give back.
Being a foster grandparent or working with young people in some other way is a low-impact, self-guided opportunity that is available in almost every community in the U.S. The Senior Corps Foster Grandparent program connects people 55 and older with children in Head Start programs, area schools and other youth groups. You can also try Big Brothers Big Sisters, children’s hospitals, the school district and more. This also provides a sense of community for senior residents who live far away from their own families.
Love your local museum? Volunteer as a tour guide or docent at a museum, landmark, botanical garden or historical site. There may also be behind-the scenes work for people with a passion but who don’t want that much time with people.
Meals on Wheels is frequently looking for volunteers to deliver meals to local homebound residents. This is a good opportunity for particularly social people; many of the elderly people who are recipients of meals don’t get as many visitors as they would like, and, in addition to dropping off meals, drivers have the chance to visit with residents. Meals on Wheels is available in all 50 states and has more than 1.5 million volunteers, many of them retirees, delivering meals to more than 1 million seniors each day.
Want something a little out of the box? Habitat for Humanity offers opportunities to help build houses. These opportunities can be in your neighborhood, but Habitat also has retired and semi-retired volunteers who go to disaster relief zones and other parts of the country as part of the RV Care-A-Vanners, a group of about 6,000 volunteers who, as their name suggests, drive RVs to participate in different homebuilding projects.
Retirees are frequently a good fit for a variety of disaster relief efforts, particularly those with special skills, such as doctors, nurses, EMTs, pharmacists, language interpreters, lawyers and even chaplains and fundraisers.