Great Volunteering Ideas from Road Scholar
Volunteering in retirement doesn't just benefit the world; it benefits the retiree. Staying involved as a senior citizen volunteer can help you maintain your mental and physical health as well as help you stay involved in your community. It enables you to stay social and can give you a strong sense of purpose during the often difficult transition that accompanies retirement.
Are you looking for ideas for volunteer opportunities for seniors? Look no further! We've created this resource page to help inspire you to give back to your community in retirement.
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1 | Act Globally
One of the best parts of retiring is that you have more time on your hands to do what you love. If one of the things you love is travel, then consider combining that passion with some volunteering! Road Scholar offers service learning programs right here in the U.S. Make the world a better place while taking part in educational travel experiences.
2 | Be a Foster Grandparent
There are endless volunteer opportunities to help children, from tutoring to organizing toy drives to coaching a youth sports team. But one that fits particularly well for volunteering in retirement is Senior Corps' foster grandparent program, which pairs adults over 55 with children in need in their communities for mentorship.
3 | Volunteer at a National Park
There are many volunteer opportunities for seniors at national parks for those who live near one. You can volunteer at one-time events if you have limited time to give or serve a longer-term position. The National Park Service even offers an artist-in-residence program for visual artists, writers, musicians and more. Plus, 250 service hours earn you a free volunteer pass.
4 | Lend a Hand at Your Local Library
Libraries are usually underfunded and looking for volunteers to help during business hours, which is a perfect volunteer opportunity for retired seniors, especially retired teachers. Work as a greeter or genealogy clerk, or teach English as a second language as you share your love for books, reading, writing and language.
5 | Run, Walk or Cycle for a Good Cause
Relay for Life, Light the Night, and Race for the Cure are three of the largest charity walks/races, and these and others happen in nearly every city across the country and for just about any cause. Not only do they benefit the charity, but they keep your body moving, which is always a benefit for seniors. Find one in your area, or if there isn't one established in your community already, reach out to a charity organization to get one started.
6 | Walk Dogs
Volunteering for senior citizens can take many forms. An excellent volunteer opportunity for seniors is walking dogs. As a senior, you can connect with your local humane society or other nonprofit that needs assistance walking dogs. Walking dogs offers several key benefits to seniors, such as:
Physical exercise: Walking dogs is a great way to get movement throughout the day, allowing seniors to strengthen their muscles and improve their overall health.Social interaction: Through dog walking, seniors can connect with other dog owners and people in their community, which can help build strong social connections and conversations. Stress relief: There are countless studies showing the benefit of interacting with dogs, including reducing stress and promoting relaxation. Companionship: Dog walking is a great way for seniors to experience the joy of spending time with a furry friend, which can help reduce feelings of loneliness. Community support: Walking dogs is a great volunteer opportunity for seniors because it allows them to give back to local organizations and dog shelters.
The Humane Society and the MSPCA have branches across the country, and you can also find local shelters in your community. Senior citizen volunteers are needed for animal care and training, as well as administrative work, animal rights advocacy and more.
7 | Join the Peace Corps
The average age of a Peace Corps volunteer is 28, but the global volunteer program has launched an initiative to attract retired volunteers. You can even serve with your spouse or partner. This can be a perfect fit for those adventurous folks and lifelong learners looking for an opportunity to give back and see the world.
8 | Become an Activist
Do your civic duty and get involved at the local, state or national level! There are many volunteer opportunities for seniors as activists, from attending rallies, to helping register people to vote or volunteering for a political campaign, to lending a hand at the polls or for an advocacy organization like the ACLU. Find the causes that are most important to you and fight for them!
9 | Assist Older Americans
One of the top volunteer opportunities for senior citizens is assisting other seniors. If you're an able-bodied person who has the resources, you can give back to other older Americans in various ways. You can provide meal delivery and food assistance to prepare and deliver meals for homebound adults. Other volunteer opportunities that connect you with other seniors in need include transportation assistance, where you provide transportation to other seniors to get to medical appointments, the grocery store or social events. Or, you can consider senior companionship volunteer opportunities, where you can provide emotional support to fellow seniors who might be living alone or in assisted living facilities.
The Older Americans Act, enacted in 1965, serves more than 10 million citizens each year, offering meal delivery, transportation services, counseling, and more. The "Got an Hour?" program provides volunteer opportunities for retirees to help other older folks in their area, even if they have limited time to help.
10 | Provide a Hot Meal
More than 500,000 people in America experience homelessness on any night, 12% of whom are veterans. These folks need help year-round, not just during the holidays. Seniors volunteers can donate their time by serving up a hot meal and a slice of humanity one time, monthly or once a week at a local homeless shelter. You can also help gather the food they need by working at a food pantry or organizing a food drive. Visit the National Coalition for the Homeless for resources.
11 | Help Out at a Favorite Museum
Museums are usually nonprofits, which are funded by the government and private donors. Millions of museums across the U.S. are free to visitors, and most rely greatly on volunteers. Visit your local zoo, arboretum, science or history museum to see what kinds of volunteer jobs are available for seniors. For more information, check out the American Alliance of Museums' website.
12 | Volunteer Virtually
For those with limited mobility or transportation, you can still get involved. Many organizations offer opportunities to volunteer from home in retirement, like providing administrative help, knitting emotional support blankets, recording audiobooks, sending cards to cancer patients, teaching English and more. Check out DoSomething.org for organizations that need remote volunteers.
13 | Organize Your Own Fundraiser
Hold a bake sale, organize a community blood drive, raise money for your local Red Cross or send cards to soldiers overseas. There is unlimited space for creativity when it comes to volunteering in retirement. Use your talents and incorporate your passions to give back to organizations or communities that matter most to you.
14 | Professional Coach or Mentor
Retirement doesn't mean you have to hang up the skills that you've built throughout your career. If you're looking for volunteer ideas for seniors, consider volunteering as a professional coach or mentor to give back to younger generations just starting in the workforce. As a professional coach or mentor, you'll have the opportunity to connect with other generations and provide knowledge, skills and wisdom that you've learned throughout your decades as a professional in your field. You can work through various organizations to connect with youth and offer guidance and expertise. One program is Be a Mentor, a nonprofit organization that helps children develop the skills necessary to make healthy life choices and build vibrant lives for themselves.
15 | Community Gardens
One of the top volunteer opportunities for seniors is helping at a local community garden. A community garden is a shared piece of land cultivated and maintained by a group of people. It serves as a place for families and individuals to gather to grow plants, herbs, vegetables and fruits. Most community gardens allow individuals or groups to maintain their designated crops or plants, while having a shared communal space where members can share resources, such as tools and compost. If you're interested in helping out at your local garden, various nonprofits offer opportunities for seniors, such as The American Community Gardening Association, which is a 501(c)(3) that links gardens across the U.S. and Canada to bring people, resources and education together to benefit local neighborhoods through community gardening.
Not sure where to start?
Here are some resources to help you identify your own strengths, find opportunities in your communities, learn best practices and sharpen skills that can help you be more successful as a volunteer.
The Grandmother Collective, based in the United States but operating worldwide, believes that older individuals (especially grandmothers, but also aunties and "grandothers"), with their accumulated knowledge and connections, are in a unique position to drive change in their own communities. The organization is dedicated to inspiring individuals of all ages to realize their potential. They offer resources that provide practical ideas on how to be a catalyst for change and showcase how older individuals from different parts of the world are taking action, demonstrating that starting a nonprofit or making significant financial investments is not necessary to unite people for a common cause.
Check out the Grandmother Collective's "Tea for Change" handbook, for tips on identifying your strengths and finding opportunities within your community to make change, and considering helping grow the movement by hosting your own gatherings, referred to as "tea" sessions, to bring people together for collaborative problem-solving.
The Ageless Ambassador Program was created to empower people over the age of 55 to effectively use their talents, energy and compassion to be powerful and impactful volunteers. When you join the program, you'll become a member of a community of volunteers with whom you can learn and share best practices. The Facebook SALON Community is free of charge and offers mentorship for your volunteering efforts.
You'll also have access to courses and group meetings where you can continually sharpen your volunteering and cause management skills. Classes include choosing a cause that lights you up, learning skills for championing a cause, campaigning for change in public policy and communication skills needed to make an impact. The Ageless Ambassador Program also connects you to like-minded volunteers and organizations that need your help.
Whether you're interested in volunteering in a community group, traveling to a foreign country or forming a private foundation or 501c3, the Ageless Ambassador Program is a great place to start to seek inspiration from your peers and to find resources to inspire you.
Endless Retirement Volunteer Opportunities
This list is by no means comprehensive. There are millions of volunteer opportunities for seniors to combine their passions and talents with community service. If you haven't found your perfect fit on this list, check out The Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) or Volunteer Match for more ideas and resources for volunteering in retirement.