Staying Connected Through Community Service in Retirement

Written by: Mike Valles

Retiring from your job does not have to mean the end of your social life or usefulness. Some people are afraid that when they retire that they will lose their friends and acquaintances who work with them. One way to continue to contribute to a lifetime of skills and experience and expand your circle of friends is to become involved with local community service in retirement.

Community services have a growing need for more help and services from people of all types. The rapidly growing numbers of senior citizens in most communities is also seeing a need for more volunteers to help meet their needs.

One of the greatest reasons to volunteer is that there are many people who could benefit from your help. This is especially true in a day of financial problems for many, and many could use about any kind of help they can get. According to SeniorCorps, volunteers helped a massive 1.1 million people, and some of them received skills training – leading to 5,400 people getting new jobs based on those skills.

By working as a volunteer and performing service to the community, you continue to provide for yourself a sense of usefulness and meaning in life. This can give you something to look forward to each day, and also allow you to make new friends and be a friend to someone else who may have deep needs. Perhaps not surprisingly, a recent study showed that those who volunteered for the benefit of others not only retained good brain function, but may have actually increased it!

When looking for a place to volunteer your services, some places that you might look include non-profit organizations, churches, schools, and hospitals. Some organizations, such as the Retired & Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), were created to help seniors find places to serve as a volunteer in New York City and other places. This group focuses on helping seniors find volunteer work working at places like soup kitchens, thrift shops, English as a Second Language, and with adult literacy.

Other areas that RSVP helps with is that of working with children of prisoners and providing them with mentoring programs, and helping with a repair program of criminal records. About 90 percent of criminal records have errors on them, and these can hurt prisoners unnecessarily later when they try to get housing and work. Two other sister programs of RSVP are the Foster Grandparents program, and the Senior Companion program.

Two other Websites offer help for seniors in retirement who are looking for places to serve as a volunteer. These are Senior Corps and VolunteerMatch, and both of them give tips on how to find volunteer programs that you might be interested in, such as writing down your talents and interests, and pursue a program along those lines.

Another opportunity that you may want to take part in is to volunteer to work abroad. You can do this for short trips, for a month, or even for a summer. One such program, called Cross-Cultural Solutions, lets you pick the length of your stay and has programs in Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe, and Latin America. The AARP also provides opportunities, too, to help with hospices, pet rescue, and to help people get help with food who need it.

There are many opportunities for volunteers to make a mark in the lives of others. What a change could be made by those who are willing to serve and make a difference through community service in retirement.


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