Senior citizens are more vital and active than ever. I have seen firsthand the positive impact senior citizen’s make volunteering their time. The talents and life experience seniors have benefits the community and younger generations. Finding the right fit for volunteering is important. There are opportunities out there to suit every interest. Many community organizations, children’s groups and churches have many opportunities to give time and talent.
Scouting organizations, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, and Cub Scouts are always looking for volunteers. Senior citizens, even without a child in the pack or troop, can become a treasured member of the team. Bringing the knowledge of a lifetime to the material, seniors can bring a subject alive for the children. In my Cub Scouting experience, the Scouts seem to respond better and listen more clearly to older volunteers and guests. My father, who is now a senior, has been volunteering with the Cub Scouts. He has great stories and life examples that captivate the children more coming from him than parent-leaders. The children love to hear his take on the topics covered at each den meeting.
Community organizations, such as the Rotary Club or Lions Club, contain great opportunities for volunteering. While I worked at a long-term care facility, we had a group of senior ladies who donated small quilts that they created during weekly meetings. Another group would bring donations of socks and small gifts twice a year. They gathered the items as a service project during monthly meetings. Community organizations not only provide a social environment, but endless possibilities for volunteering. I have seen projects for local beautification, handy-work for the needy and charitable fundraisers where seniors play a key role.
Schools are constantly on the lookout for new volunteers. My son’s elementary school has a reading program many seniors take part in. Community members come in once a month and read to a class. Many volunteers are retired community members who enjoy interacting with the children. There are not just opportunities with reading, but chances to share passions for other subjects such as art and music. Volunteers at my local school also provide individual, in school tutoring in reading, math and science. There is a position for every interest within the school system.
Hospitals are looking for volunteers to help make the experience more comfortable for its residents. There are many opportunities to find a position that plays to a volunteer’s strength. Greeters help direct individuals to the floor or location within the maze of a hospital. Other volunteers can bring gifts to ill patients during their stay. Working at the gift shop can help raise funds for the hospital or a hospital program such as cancer care center or pediatrics. My local hospital includes an outreach program for cancer patients which provide upscale clothing, wigs and hats to individuals currently undergoing chemotherapy. It gives a boost to the patient’s self esteem with items they might not otherwise be able to afford with all the medical bills. It is staffed mostly by seniors who want to bring a smile to those patient’s faces. Other hospitals will have similar programs to participate in.
Through volunteering, seniors can make new friends, connect with old acquaintances and continue to create a lasting mark on the world. I have seen the positive effects volunteering made on senior friends and relatives. Once each found an opportunity for their interest and skill set, volunteering was an act that brought joy and accomplishment into the individual’s life. Seniors should keep looking until they uncover the niche that is a perfect fit.