If you’re recently retired, you might consider using your newfound free time to give back to your community. Volunteering makes you feel good, but it also presents a variety of cognitive and physical benefits. Overall, adults who volunteer have lower mortality rates and less depression, as well as generally higher levels of happiness and self-esteem. Additionally, one report even found lower rates of heart disease in states with high numbers of adult volunteers. But it can be hard to know where to start, especially if you’re new to the volunteering scene. So, where can seniors volunteer?
Where Can Seniors Volunteer?
For Social Seniors: Senior Corps
If you’re looking to get more involved in your immediate community, check out Senior Corps, a division of the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). Senior Corps offers a Foster Grandparents program that allows adults 55 and older to mentor youth in their communities through schools, hospitals, drug treatment centers, and youth correctional institutions. Senior Corps members typically commit to up to 20 service hours a week; however, the benefits far outweigh the commitment. In 2015, CNCS launched two studies to weigh the effects of volunteering on mental health. The results were staggering: Almost two-thirds of Senior Corps volunteers reported a decrease in feelings of isolation, and seventy percent of volunteers reported significantly reduced depression symptoms.
For Outdoorsy Seniors: National Park Service
If you enjoy spending time in the great outdoors, consider volunteering with the National Park Service. If you live near a national park, you can volunteer your time for park cleanups, education programs, and more. National Park Service volunteers also enjoy several perks, including free meals and a free annual pass to all federal recreation sites if you volunteer for at least 250 hours.
For Animal Lovers: The Humane Society
Passionate about caring for furry friends? Sign up to serve on the Humane Society’s Animal Rescue Team, a nationwide volunteer network that responds to law enforcement actions or natural disasters that impact pets. Animal rescue volunteers serve in a variety of ways including animal handling, administrative tasks, and fostering stray animals. You can also connect with an animal shelter near you to get involved with rescue animals close to home.
For Adventurous Seniors: Road Scholar
Spend your retirement seeing the sights with Road Scholar, an international organization providing service learning trips. You can participate in a wide variety of service endeavors through Road Scholar, like assisting with a water sanitation project in Nicaragua or teaching English in Asia. Road Scholar presents a uniquely satisfying, affordable way to travel the world.
Volunteer from Home
There are also plenty of ways to volunteer your time from the comfort of your couch. Consider e-mentoring, which involves sharing your life experiences with at-risk youth – all through your computer screen. E-mentoring programs help kids stay in school and give you the opportunity to make a lasting impact on a young person’s life.
Volunteering offers an excellent opportunity to give back to your community while also reaping powerful mental and physical health benefits. If you’re not sure how to find volunteer opportunities in your community, reach out to your local senior center or community development organization to get connected.
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