Giving back to the community can be deeply rewarding. While it requires some commitment, the benefits of volunteering can help older adults improve their health, relationships, and skillsets. But how do you know when you’ve found the right volunteer opportunity?
Over 11 million Americans age 65 and older volunteer each year. Their efforts are crucial to meet a variety of needs in communities across the nation. And, the need for volunteer support only continues to rise.
Could you use your time and talents to help your neighborhood thrive? Here’s how older adults can get started volunteering in their communities.
What does the right volunteer opportunity mean to you?
People volunteer for all sorts of reasons. Many want to give back to their local community. Channeling your energy into helping others can be greatly satisfying. But, there’s more to it.
When you give, you also get something back. It’s important to think about the benefits to you and why you are interested in volunteering. This will help you match with an opportunity that fits your goals and lifestyle.
Volunteering can connect you with an old hobby or encourage you to stay active. You may also be interested in meeting new friends who have similar interests. Or, you may be working towards a new career path and want to gain some experience.
Whatever your reason for volunteering, understanding the things you want to get out of it will help you identify an opportunity that you look forward to participating in.
What’s your passion?
For some, the question might be harder than it seems. Between jobs, raising children, and the day-to-day tasks in life, our passions get pushed to the back burner. But if you’re experiencing an empty nest or retirement, it might be the perfect time to explore what brings you joy.
Think about your hobbies. Pay attention to the topics you like to read or watch on television. Many interests fit into volunteer opportunities that allow you to work on your passion while giving back.
For example, you might be interested in sports. Why not volunteer at a local school or youth center to help coach a team?
Or, you may want to pitch in at a community garden if that’s your thing. If you love animals, local shelters are always looking for help. There are so many options – you just need to discover which fits best with your passions!
Know your strengths
If you’re looking for a new volunteer opportunity, consider starting with what you know. Everyone has a unique set of skills and experiences that can be applied to community needs.
Does your background include teaching or taking care of children? See if you can get involved with a youth program or help young mothers. Or, your professional skills, such as financial or marketing, can be helpful at many nonprofits and professional development organizations.
Understand the details
Before signing on to a volunteer opportunity, make sure you know what you’re getting into. Read the entire description, and don’t hesitate to reach out to the organization with any questions you might have.
Find out the time commitment, if you will need transportation, and whether you need to complete any assessments or training courses.
Learn about the organization’s mission and values. You can research by looking at the agency’s website, social media profiles, and annual report. You can also ask around in your community to gain information.
Reach out to volunteer networks to find the right volunteer opportunity
Many nonprofits list their opportunities on their website, volunteer search engines, and in community newsletters. Searching for a good fit among many different sources can be daunting and confusing.
If you’re 55 years or older, consider connecting with your local AmeriCorps Seniors RSVP program . AmeriCorps Seniors is the nation’s largest volunteer network for people 55 and older. It partners with local nonprofits in your area and helps you find the right opportunity based on your interests, passions, and availability.
By letting AmeriCorps Seniors find you the right volunteer opportunity, you can easily access opportunities that make sense for your volunteer goals. You also gain extra perks by doubling your impact, receiving secondary liability insurance on your vehicle, and participating in fun recognition events throughout the year.
Are you 55 years or older and interested in giving back? Contact RSVP to find your perfect match and start volunteering. VANTAGE’s AmeriCorps Seniors RSVP program is available in Summit, Wayne, Medina, Geauga, Franklin, Delaware, and Hamilton Counties.
Contact us today online or by calling 330-253-4597.
*The information in this article is intended solely to provide general information on matters of interest for the personal use of the reader, who accepts full responsibility for its use. This article should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional legal, medical, or other competent advisors.