Volunteers Enrich Lives
Many people find themselves with considerable time to devote to helping others after retirement. All the hours formerly devoted to work and commuting are now available for other endeavors. Volunteer work may provide an enjoyable, meaningful way to spend this newfound time. There are many volunteer opportunities available.
People volunteer for different reasons—to be fulfilled and satisfied, to maintain human connections, to feel needed by others, to make a difference, to give back to their communities or to learn new skills.
Deciding Where to Volunteer
Think about what you have always wanted to do but have never had the time to do. Examine your current interests. Do a little research to find an organization that needs your specific set of skills or where you can learn something new.
Many organizations have an interview process for volunteer positions. Depending upon the type of assignment you wish to perform, you may need to be fingerprinted and/or to have a criminal background check. (This is particularly true for positions working with young children or vulnerable adults.)
Finding the Right Match
In order to have a satisfying volunteer experience, you need to find the right “match.” There are several umbrella agencies that will take your interests and qualifications, compare them against an extensive database of organizations in need of volunteers, and attempt to match you with the proper agency.
The Baltimore County Department of Aging has developed an online volunteer directory that provides information about more than 200 organizations looking for volunteers to work in programs that serve families, children, and people with disabilities, as well as programs that address crime prevention, environmental issues and much more. Volunteers of all ages can search for opportunities at this Baltimore County Volunteers site.
For information about senior volunteering, contact the Baltimore County Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) by calling 410-887-3101 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also want to ask about Home Team, a program that matches volunteers with elderly homebound individuals.
- RSVP National Site
This program offers opportunities for retired individuals, 55 years of age and older, to use their life experience and skills to help a wide variety of agencies within their communities.
- Corporation for National Service
This national program has information about volunteer opportunities for people of all ages.
- Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE)
SCORE is a volunteer consulting service for small business owners that offers retired executives the opportunity to share their knowledge and skills with future managers, administrators and small business owners.
- Volunteer Match
Volunteer Match offers opportunities for “virtual volunteering.” A virtual volunteer offers services to others by computer. This may involve typing correspondence or school reports for a disabled person or conversing with a shut-in by email.
- The American Red Cross
If you are more adventurous, the American Red Cross trains volunteers to fly into disaster areas to set up the infrastructure for local volunteers who will put out fires, search for survivors or fill sandbags.
Of course you may call a particular organization directly to inquire about volunteer opportunities. You may want to volunteer at a local senior center, hospice, hospital, adult medical day center, assisted living facility or nursing home.