Finding Fulfillment Through Volunteer Opportunities for Seniors
Are you looking for a way to find greater fulfillment in your senior years? Volunteering could hold the answer, providing a meaningful connection with people of all ages and a sense of being needed by others.
Volunteering, as well as donating to those in need, are often top-of-mind during the holiday season, but many worthy organizations need help year-round. Even if you are short on cash or can’t travel, as a senior you have one very valuable commodity that can’t be matched by the younger generation: knowledge gained from decades of experience. That’s why some of the best volunteering opportunities for seniors involve teaching or mentoring.
Let’s look at three organizations that make it easy for senior citizens to volunteer their time and impart their knowledge, while sharing companionship with young and old alike.
With more than 360,000 members and branches in all 50 states, Senior Corps is one of the largest organizations for people over 55 to join and find volunteer opportunities. Senior Corps offers three programs: Foster Grandparent, Senior Companion, and RSVP. Depending on your interests and abilities, you may choose the specialty programs of Foster Grandparent or Senior Companion, or you may opt to help out wherever you are needed with an RSVP membership. Members receive the training and guidance they need to be truly helpful volunteers, and Foster Grandparents and Senior Companions may even receive a small stipend to help defray the costs related with volunteering.
When a member chooses to participate as a Foster Grandparent, he or she mentors disadvantaged children. Foster Grandparents help these children learn to read, offer one-on-one tutoring, care for children who have been abused, help young mothers, and more.
Senior Companions help people in their community who need respite from caregiving. Much like other in-home companions, Senior Companions volunteer their time to care for other seniors.
RSVP members choose their volunteering opportunities. They may help renovate a home, assist in a disaster situation, mentor youth in need, organize Neighborhood Watch programs or participate in a number of other activities that benefit their community.
Ronald McDonald House
There’s always a need for volunteers of all ages in Ronald McDonald Houses. These houses help families when the children are ill or in need of surgery by providing a place where the whole family can live for the duration of the illness, treatment and/or recovery.
Ronald McDonald House has global chapters and can use volunteers at every house. The easiest way to find how to help is to contact a local chapter.
If you’re a homebound senior looking for fulfillment through volunteering, your options aren’t as limited as you may think. I Could Be is an online mentorship site that connects “e-mentors” (that is, virtual mentors who help out students online) with middle and high school students in need of mentoring.
Mentoring has been shown to help disadvantaged and at-risk children to avoid negative life choices and stay in school. Recent research shows that e-mentoring can be as effective as face-to-face mentoring.
To join I Could Be, expect to spend about 20 minutes filling out the online application and submit to a background check. This process helps protect the children receiving mentorship. Once you’ve been accepted you can spend as little as one hour per week logged in to the online community where you can answer questions, offer advice and help students in need stay on their chosen career path to fulfill future goals.
Look Around Your Community For Other Opportunities
If you don’t consider yourself tech-savvy or prefer a one-on-one approach when it comes to tutoring or guiding young minds, check in with your local library or community center to see what opportunities might be available. You may read books to preschoolers during story time once a week, or help high school students with their homework.
Your local church is another good place to explore for ways to volunteer your time and talents. Or, you might even offer to help other seniors right in your own senior community, perhaps by teaching a baking or scrapbooking class.
The possibilities are limitless once you realize many people and organizations are in need of assistance; all you have to do is ask how you can help.
SeniorLiving.Net is a free service for families to use that are looking for senior care or senior living for a loved one. Call (866) 342-4297 to speak to your local Care Advisor about senior care providers in your local area.