Retired and Reinvented: Volunteer Opportunities
Retirement can be a freeing act− you are no longer a slave to the 9-5. No more late arrivals into work from bumper-to-bumper traffic, no more pretending to like that annoying coworker, and no more answering to the higher-ups. But with this newfound thing called free time, things can quickly become dull. Retirement isn’t always as glorious as it’s made out to be, especially if you don’t know what to do with it.
Volunteering is a rewarding alternative to twiddling your thumbs. Not only does volunteer work generate a sense of self-worth and accomplishment, it is also a great way to meet new people, make new friends, get out of the house, and burn off some energy so you can get a great night’s sleep. Here are a few ideas for seniors looking to get involved:
Professional Organizations and Charities
You may have left your career as a doctor, accountant, ad exec, or sleep technolgist, but that doesn’t mean you have to leave your former life in the dust. Your decades of experience in your field are extremely valuable to those still working their way up through the ranks.
Volunteering with a professional organization connected to your former career is a great way
to put your knowledge and skills to excellent use. You might also consider becoming a board member for a non-profit connected to your former career or simply mentoring a young professional in your professional field. Sometimes the best way to give back is by sharing your knowledge and experience.
Bonding with some four-legged friends has many benefits. Petting an animal relieves stress and lowers blood pressure, walking and playing with a dog keeps your energy levels up and your number on the scale down, and developing a relationship with an animal curbs loneliness and gives your life a new sense of purpose. Benefits aren’t a one-way street. 2.7 million animals are euthanized every year, largely due to staff shortage. Helping homeless dogs, for example, can save the animals’ lives. Maybe you’ll even find the perfect companion for you or a friend. Rover has a great article on ways you can help homeless dogs that is well worth checking out.
Help low-income families or senior citizens prepare their federal and state income tax returns. Choose between two IRS-sponsored national programs:
- Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program: Trains volunteer tax preparers to work with families eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit
- Tax Counseling for the Elderly: Trains volunteer tax preparers to work with taxpayers 60 and over.
Help From Home
Sometimes you may feel like taking advantage of retired life. Brew a warm cup of coffee, relax in your favorite easy chair,, and change the world without having to change out of your pajamas. Micro-volunteering is a way to give back on your own time and your own terms. All you have to do is choose a cause close to your heart and choose the action you’d like to take.
Charities and Nonprofits
Help someone get back on their feet. Work in a soup kitchen, clean the facilities at a shelter, or sign up to tutor adult or child occupants. There are endless possibilities in this department. Find a cause that is in line with your own passion and sensibilities.
Retirement and traveling often go hand-in-hand. Use giving back as an excuse to get away. There are plenty of places around the world that could use your help.
If volunteering at your local homeless shelters or hospitals doesn’t sound like it’s for you, find something that caters to your interests. Volunteering doesn’t have to happen through an organization, although there is probably another advocate out there to help you support your cause. Help someone carry their groceries to their car, or rake the leaves in your neighbor’s yard each fall. A little bit goes a long way if you want to make someone’s day.
The AAST is always looking for members who would like to volunteer. Check out formal volunteer opportunities on the AAST website. You can also volunteer for a short-term project that a task force is working on. For more information contact the AAST coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (630) 737.9704. We are a volunteer organization and we welcome members to participate and share their expertise!