Now that you’ve retired, you probably have some extra time on your hands. What better way to spend that newfound energy than getting involved in your local community? There are numerous benefits to connecting with people around you, including:
- Establishing a meaningful social network: if you’re having trouble finding friends in your area, volunteering your time or going to community events can be a great way to find people who have similar interests and hobbies
- Building a stronger community: if you put effort into your environment, you’ll reap the rewards of your work.
- Psychological benefits: helping to improve your community has been shown to have positive effects on your health. It also feels good to give back!
If you’re still not convinced that volunteering may be right for you, consider that 65% of retirees say that retirement is the best time in life to give back and that this age group actually accounts for 45% of total volunteer hours in the United States. As a retiree you have a wealth of knowledge and skills to contribute that you didn’t when you were younger, making this as good a time as any to get started.
What type of volunteer work might be right for me?
So now that you’ve decided that you want to get involved. How do you start? Here are some tips for determining what type of volunteering might be right for you.
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Define a specific purpose
For example, what makes you think, “I really wish I could do something about that” when you read about it on the news or see it on TV? What social problems do you wish you had the power to solve in the blink of an eye??
Think about what you’d like to get out of the experience
Do you want to use the skills you’ve built up during your years in the workforce? Or are you looking to learn something new while helping others? Do you want to continue engaging in physical activity as part of your volunteer work? Or maybe you want to make learning a new language a part of your goals?
With an idea of what causes matter to you and how you’re looking to grow during your experience, you can begin researching organizations that match both criteria. Use the Volunteer Match platform to see what opportunities are available in your area.
Still not sure where to start?
Here are some ideas for ways to get involved locally, nationally, or even internationally (if you’re feeling adventurous).
- Get involved in local or national politics
- Give back to our U.S. service members through the USO or United We Serve
- Volunteer to work on an organic farm
- Become a docent at a museum (art, science, natural history) or zoo
- Help people in need in your area build housing
- Help entrepreneurs who are building their own businesses
- Join the SeniorCorps, the “adult” version of AmeriCorps
- Travel the world while helping others
- Virtually mentor an at-risk middle or high school student
- Join the PeaceCorps
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Not interested in volunteering but still want to stay active in your community?
Maybe it feels a little overwhelming to start the volunteer process right now, but you’d still like to connect with others around you. Here are some ideas to get started:
- Join an exercise group such as Yoga, Tai-chi, or your neighborhood’s walking club
- Join groups with common interests or hobbies – rotary club, music classes, bridge club, etc.
- Use your brain and take some classes at your local community college, church, or YMCA
- Join a women’s club
- Host an exchange student