Some retirees worked all of their lives so they could retire and do anything they wanted. They dreamed and planned and hoped for this time. And now that they’re retired, they find retirement is not at all what they wanted. It is boring and unsettling and disappointing.
For someone who has lived a full and active life for so many years, suddenly not having a purpose in retirement can be a shock.
For retirees who have moved to new locations for their retirement and don’t have any family or friends nearby, retirement can be an unexpectedly lonely time.
For seniors who find themselves discouraged about their current situation, there is a solution that can benefit both them and their community. Volunteering can provide activities and social interactions that can help make that season of life rewarding.
Share Those Talents
During all of those years that were spent working, retirees were developing and honing skill sets that could be used by organizations and non-profit groups in local communities. Everyone has a skill that could be used.
Were you an accountant? You could offer to assist with the books for a boys club. Were you a teacher? Volunteer at the local library to help teach adults to read or to teach English to someone for whom that might not be a native language. Were you an electrician? Offer your skills to a non-profit that does home repairs for those who cannot afford them.
At the end of the day, volunteers feel productive and have the knowledge that their talents were used for the betterment of those around them.
Meet New People
Working alongside other volunteers is an excellent way to meet new people, whether someone is new to an area or has been in a place for years. Volunteering puts people on an even level, working for a common goal. As volunteers work together, they tend to talk to one another and get to know why one another is there – and reasons for volunteering are as different as the volunteers themselves.
Soon, the gentleman who volunteers because he’s lonely after his wife passed away is having lunch after his volunteer shift with the volunteer who felt adrift after retiring from his corporate job. People begin to make connections. And everyone feels better about themselves and the world around them.
So often, it’s that initial step that holds people back. These are just a few ways to begin a volunteer journey.
This website matches volunteers with organizations that share interests. Volunteers enter a specific zip code and select specific interests, and the site will give a range of potential volunteer organizations.
This website allows volunteers to again enter a zip code and then find a listing of volunteer needs within that area.
This site is designed specifically for the Bay Area, with links to information about volunteer needs in the local area.
The staff at organizations such as the Red Cross or the United Way should be able to direct volunteers to local opportunities, as well.
Studies show that volunteering – whether once a month or once a week – makes a positive difference in the life of a volunteer (as well as in the life of the organization receiving the volunteer time).
Support for volunteering may be found in a report called “The Health Benefits of Volunteering” done by the Corporation for National and Community Service:
- Adults age 65 and older who volunteered found positive physical and mental effects due to a personal sense of accomplishment.
- Seniors who volunteer gained a sense of purpose that had often been lost when they were no longer a primary wage earner or active parent.
- Community service and volunteerism was more strongly linked to life satisfaction for retirees than for those individuals who continued to work for pay.
Volunteering for even a few hours a month may be just what retirees need in order to bring a sense of purpose and a feeling of accomplishment to this season of life. It can also be the vehicle that brings new friends and an overall feeling of happiness.
Go volunteer. Do good. Feel happy.
For more information on how volunteering can lead to better health and wellbeing, check out this Resource Center article!