Do you want to make a positive difference somewhere? Do you want to do something special, something meaningful? Most of us do, but often, we think it’s too late. We’re ‘over the hill’ and our useful days are over.
I don’t know where to begin to tell you how wrong this is!
Sure, we’re older. Many of us are retired and possibly living on a restrictive budget, but that doesn’t mean we can’t do something to help others.
It actually means that we are in a perfect position to make a positive difference to something or someone. We have the time and the desire. A good number of us are reasonably healthy, full of life, and engaged in the world.
Regardless of our abilities, most of us do want to make a positive difference and do something special and meaningful. We can volunteer.
There are many worthy charities that desperately need help using the basic everyday skills we all have. From animal and child care, to gardening, renovating, painting, as well as coaching how to organize and manage groups of people. The needs are endless.
Here are 5 excellent reasons to volunteer:
All the money in the world can’t compensate for the good feelings we get when we help those less fortunate.
Don’t you love how you feel when you see that big smile on the face of the child you helped, the mother you supported, or the man you helped rescue his cat. We all love to feel good, and giving back feels good.
Volunteering gives us something to do with a set of activities and a schedule for doing them. Most volunteering opportunities involve a routine which mitigates boredom and/or the onset of depression, that many of us fall into from the lack of purpose we feel post-retirement.
The majority of us didn’t have careers that let us explore our passions. We had to find jobs that paid the electricity, water, and rent due each month, and feeding cats just couldn’t do that.
Now we can indulge in the many opportunities with organizations involved in animal care, gardening, basic construction and athletic activities. We can explore our passions, while giving back.
As we get older and our ‘work life’ ends, we can begin to feel useless, that we are no longer needed. Volunteering helps us find value in our lives. It improves both our self-value and self-esteem.
Through volunteering we feel we are positively contributing to society. We see value in our efforts and how our volunteering is important to something bigger than ourselves.
We are never too old to learn new things, but often it is a challenge to take a course. Volunteering allows us to learn new skills and techniques in the process of helping others.
Whether you are volunteering with children, animals, or another aspect of community life, you are always learning new things and new ways to do old things.
There is a positive sense of accomplishment that comes from time well spent with learning, especially when we see the benefits of our new skills.
Volunteering is something we should all consider and explore. There are many excellent charities that need people for a variety of tasks. They can be as physical or as passive as we want.
We can indulge our passions and interests, as we make a positive contribution to those in need and feel great doing it.
How good is that!
How often do you volunteer? Where did you volunteer most recently? How do you feel after a day of helping others? What do you like to do most in your life as a volunteer? Please share your favorite activities and organizations and how they empower your post-retirement life.
I volunteered a lot for my church and my kids’ schools. Maybe it’s just those particular organizations, but there always was a “professional” volunteer who would take charge and was very possessive of her position and made me feel like she was doing me a favor by letting me help
out. This was especially true in church. Then I volunteered for an animal shelter. The paid employees never said hello or acknowledged my presence. Maybe I will try again, but so far volunteerism has not been very satisfying. The volunteers who already know each other can be cliquish. Sorry for the negativity, but that has been my experience. Now I just wrote a check.
Thank you Irene. Even though volunteering can be great and I’m sure works out great for many, I appreciate your injecting a more balanced reality check in here too. I’m about to start volunteering to help with kindergarten-grade 3 lunch and story reading at my grandsons’ school. We’ll see how it goes and thanks for the heads up!
I’m 65, Still working full time in an executive position, but have always volunteered throughout my career life. Seems to me that we are locked out of really being able to do work that pays decently, but if we volunteer, we’re so welcome. Advocacy should be directed to ensuring that Older Americans can work for industry standard wages as long as they want to. We shouldn’t be encouraged to work for free doing things that you would pay minimum wage for. It’s disrespectful and alludes to the notion that we are no longer viable—volunteering is what you do when you have time and passion. It doesn’t replace fair wages and should not be something you do to feel valuable.