Volunteering in retirement doesn’t just benefit the world, it benefits the retiree. Staying involved as a senior citizen volunteer can help you maintain your mental and physical health as well as helping you stay involved in your community. It helps you stay social and can give you a strong sense of purpose during the often difficult transition that accompanies retirement.
Looking for ideas for volunteer opportunities for seniors? Look no further! We’ve created this resource page to help inspire you to give back to your community in retirement.
1 | Act Globally
One of the best parts of retiring is that you have more time on your hands to do what you love. If one of the things you love is travel, then consider combining that passion with some volunteering! Road Scholar offers volunteer opportunities overseas for seniors, as well as service learning programs right here in the U.S. Make the world a better place while taking part in educational travel experiences, from excavating Mammoth fossils in the Black Hills to teaching English in India.
2 | Be a Foster Grandparent
There are endless opportunities for volunteering to help children, from tutoring to organizing toy drives to coaching a youth sports team. But one that fits particularly well for volunteering in retirement is Senior Corps’ foster grandparent program, which pairs adults over 55 with children-in-need in their communities for mentorship.
3 | Volunteer at a National Park
There are lots of volunteer opportunities for seniors at National Parks for those who live near one. You can volunteer at one-time events if you have limited time to give, or serve a longer term position. The National Park Service even offers an Artist-in-Residence program for visual artists, writers, musicians and more. Plus, 250 service hours earns you a free volunteer pass!
4 | Lend a Hand at Your Local Library
Libraries are usually underfunded and looking for volunteers to help during business hours, which is a perfect volunteer opportunity for retired seniors, especially retired teachers. Work as a greeter or genealogy clerk, or teach English as a second language as you share your love for books, reading, writing and language.
5 | Run, Walk or Cycle for a Good Cause
Relay for Life, Light the Night and Race for the Cure are three of the largest charity walks/races, and these and others happen in nearly every city across the country and for just about every cause you can think of. And not only do they benefit the charity, but they keep your body moving, which is always a benefit for seniors! Find one in your area, or, if there isn’t one established in your community already, reach out to a charity organization to get one started!
6 | Walk Dogs
The Humane Society and the MSPCA have branches across the country, and you can also find local shelters in your community. Senior citizen volunteers are needed for animal care and training, as well as administrative work, animal rights advocacy and more.
7 | Join the Peace Corps
The average age of a Peace Corps volunteer is 28, but the global volunteer program has launched an initiative to attract retired volunteers. You can even serve with your spouse or partner. For those adventurous folks and lifelong learners looking for an opportunity to give back and see the world, this can be a perfect fit.
8 | Become an Activist
Do your civic duty and get involved at the local, state or national level! There are lots of volunteer opportunities for seniors as activists, from attending rallies, to helping register people to vote or volunteering for a political campaign, to lending a hand at the polls or for an advocacy organization like the ACLU. Find the causes that are most important to you and fight for them!
9 | Assist Older Americans
The Older Americans Act, enacted in 1965, serves more than 10 million citizens each year, offering meal delivery, transportation services, counseling and more. The “Got an Hour?” program offers volunteer opportunities for retirees to help other older folks in their area even if you have limited time to help.
10 | Provide a Hot Meal
Over 500,000 people in America experience homelessness on any given night, 12% of which are veterans. And these folks need help all year round, not just at the holidays. Seniors volunteers can donate their time by serving up a hot meal and a slice of humanity once, once a month or once a week at a local homeless shelter. Or help gather the food they need by working at food pantry or organizing a food drive. Visit the National Coalition for the Homeless for resources.
11 | Help Out at a Favorite Museum
Museums are usually nonprofits, which are funded by the government and private donors. Millions of museums across the US are free to visitors, and most of them rely greatly on volunteers. Visit your local zoo, arboretum or science or history museum to see what kinds of volunteer jobs for seniors they have available. Or check out the American Alliance of Museums’ website.
12 | Volunteer Virtually
For those with limited mobility or transportation, you can still get involved! There are lots of organizations that offer opportunities to volunteer from home in retirement, like offering administrative help, knitting emotional support blankets, recording audiobooks, sending cards to cancer patients, teaching English, predicting cyclone behavior and more! Check out DoSomething.org and Operation Warm’s idea list for organizations that need remote volunteers.
13 | Organize Your Own Fundraiser
Hold a bake sale, organize a community blood drive, raise money for your local Red Cross or send cards to soldiers overseas. There is unlimited space for creativity when it comes to volunteering in retirement. Use your talents and incorporate your passions to give back to organizations or communities that matter most to you.
Endless Retirement Volunteer Opportunities
This list is by no means comprehensive. There are millions of volunteer opportunities for seniors to combine their passions and talents with community service. If you haven’t found your perfect fit on this list, check out The Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) or Volunteer Match for more ideas and resources for volunteering in retirement.
After Fifty Living thanks its friends at Road Scholar for this informative article.