We speak a lot about the importance of fueling our bodies with the proper foods, working out regularly, de-stressing, and prioritizing sleep. One area of life that may be just as, if not more, important than the healthy habits we participate in is belonging, especially as we age. Fortunately, retirement as we know it is changing and for the better.
We don’t aspire to hit 65, throw in the towel, and do nothing for the next several decades. No, thanks. In fact, losing a sense of purpose can have serious mental and physical implications. That is why we encourage people to get involved in their communities, find their purpose, and bring meaning to their life. Doing so will benefit you and help others. A great way to do this is to volunteer. You can find a sense of belonging, renewed purpose, and opportunities for personal growth through volunteer work in your community. This is especially important the older we get, as volunteering enhances physical and mental wellbeing, promotes an active lifestyle, and combats social isolation. It also gives you a chance to share your wealth of knowledge and experience, leaving a lasting impact on future generations. Hopefully, you’re thinking, “That sounds great!” But you may also be wondering, “Where and how do I start?”
The key to getting the most out of volunteering is finding the right fit. If you love working with kids, you may prefer volunteer work mentoring young people in your local community. Or, if you’ve got particular skills or experience that can be useful to others, you’ll want a role that lets you put those skills to good use. We’ve found AmeriCorps Seniors to be one of the best resources for finding volunteer work in your community. The program is open to anyone 55 and up, and it gives you the flexibility to choose exactly how you’d like to give back.
AmeriCorps Seniors has three different programs for volunteers, which vary based on your interests and your schedule. The first is their Foster Grandparent Program, which has no requirements for being an actual grandparent and is perfect for anyone interested in mentoring and tutoring children. This program pairs you with children with varying needs, giving you a chance to be a role model who guides them toward a successful future. You can care for premature infants, work with children with disabilities, offer guidance to teenagers, and more through the Foster Grandparent Program.
If you’ve got a busy schedule or a particular skill you want to share with the world, then the RSVP offers you the flexibility you need to design the perfect volunteer gig. Say you’re a lawyer who’d like to counsel people in need of legal advice. Or perhaps you love exercise and dream of leading a group fitness class. Maybe you’ve always had a green thumb and now’s your chance to help plant a community garden. Whatever your individual interests, you can choose how, where, and when you want to serve based on your preferences. Whether you’re available four hours a week or 40, you can find the perfect match through any of AmeriCorps’ partner organizations.
Another great option is the Senior Companion Program. This program gives you the opportunity to help your older neighbors maintain their independence and live in their own homes for as long as possible. You can assist with daily errands like shopping or paying bills, or simply offer friendship and support to people living alone. You’ll offer a welcome respite to family caregivers and help members of the community age with dignity in their own homes.
Regardless of age, volunteering is a powerful force that bridges generations, breaks barriers, and empowers people to make a lasting impact on the world around them. Volunteering is about being useful to others. Check out these volunteer opportunities to see how you can give back to your community.