An important part of retirement planning is deciding how you want to spend your time. If you’ve been thinking “I want to volunteer during my retirement,” there are a few things you should keep in mind as you consider which volunteer opportunities are right for you.
You’ll want to make sure the opportunity you choose matches both your goals and your availability. How many hours a week can you commit to volunteering? Are you looking to give back to the community? To travel? To make friends? Are you excited to use skills you already have from your career, or do you want to try something completely new?
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Whatever your interests, goals, and skill sets, there’s a position that’s perfect for you! Here are ten awesome volunteer opportunities to explore in your retirement.
National Park Service
Love the great outdoors? Volunteering with the National Park Service is a great way to spend time in nature and promote outdoors education. Open positions are listed at Volunteer.gov and range from leading nature walks to staffing visitor centers to being a campground host. Some positions even include free housing or an RV hookup!
Habitat For Humanity
Whether you’re a master builder or have zero experience with construction, there are plenty of ways you can help your community with Habitat For Humanity! This nonprofit works in the US and internationally to partner with families who need affordable housing. Help out with admin, staff a Habitat ReStore, make home repairs, lead a build crew. Or join the RV Care-A-Vanners who travel to build sites around the US to provide safety education or provide disaster relief.
Caring for furry friends at your local humane society or animal shelter could be the perfect fit if you’re an animal lover! These organizations typically need help with many kinds of tasks, such as admin, event organization, fundraising, outreach, and legal work. You can also consider becoming a “foster parent” and providing a temporary home for an animal in need.
If you love spending time with kids, mentoring at-risk youth is a meaningful and rewarding way to make a difference. Tutor a child who’s struggling with learning, through Senior Corps’ Foster Grandparent program. Or mentor an at-risk child through your local Big Brothers Big Sisters chapter.
Music and Film Festivals
If you’re into music, film, or local cuisine or culture, volunteering at a festival is a great way to support your hobby, make new friends, and enjoy free or discounted admission. Thousands of volunteers work together every year to make events like Sundance Film Festival and Austin’s SXSW happen. Visit FestivalTrek.com to check out what festivals are in your area.
Is there an important political issue you feel strongly about? A candidate or party you believe in? Volunteering with a political campaign is a great way to get involved in your community and make connections. Knock on doors, work the phones, fundraise, organize rallies, bring food, drive voters to the polls—whatever your skillset or comfort zone, there are multiple ways to pitch in! Search for volunteer opportunities on sites like Idealist.org and VolunteerMatch.org.
Use Your Career Skills
If you loved your career and want a rewarding way to use your experience and skills, consider becoming a “ReServist.” ReServe is a nonprofit that engages professionals age 55+ to work with local social service agencies to improve education and health care, fight poverty, and build capacity. Check out opportunities at www.reserveinc.org.
Tour Guide or Docent
Passionate about art? Love local history? Consider becoming a docent or tour guide at a local museum, botanical garden, university, or historic site. This is a great way to give back to your local community and share your passion with others. Contact local organizations directly to find out how to get involved.
Are you longing to travel? Whether you’re interested in teaching English, caring for children in need, bringing clean water to communities, providing medical care, or even doing archaeology, there are plenty of ways you can see the world while also serving the global community. You can find a variety of opportunities through the Peace Corps’ 50 Plus initiative, Projects Abroad, and GlobeAware.
Volunteer at a local church, temple, mosque, synagogue, or community service organization that is close to your heart. These institutions are key in providing needed social services to local communities. They need people to prepare or serve meals, provide music or readings at services, organize fundraising, lead community service initiatives, serve in soup kitchens and food pantries, and provide support for families in crisis. Contact your local organizations to see how you can get involved.
Do you plan to volunteer during retirement? Are there any organizations with volunteer opportunities you’d love to work with? Let us know in the comments below!
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