Volunteering your time to worthwhile causes, people in need or the community is a fulfilling opportunity, not to mention one with added health benefits! If you find yourself with some extra time on your hands why not consider volunteering.
The former director of the Centre on Aging at the University of Victoria, Neena Chappell, found that retirees who volunteered in their free time “are happier and healthier in their later years.”
There are additional benefits you can look forward to, as well. Depending on where and how you spend this time the payoff could be quite diverse, and that’s part of the fun!
In addition to improving the lives of others, you could experience:
- Growth in your social network and support system
- Lowered stress levels
- Improved physical, emotional and cognitive health
- Boosted self-esteem and self-worth
- Strengthened community
- How great it feels to make a difference!
How can I get involved?
Community centres or local government offices often have a number of resources for would-be volunteers, or information on who to contact. Another option is to keep your eyes peeled for local event listings – they often call for volunteers, and if not you can email or call to donate you services as one.
Sometimes even loved ones can be a fount of ideas and connection opportunities. Ask to be connected with schools, sports teams, and other activity groups to determine whether there is a opening for you to help out. Plus, you get the added benefit of sharing something in common with a friend or relation!
Consider applying skills from your previous profession to a volunteer gig. It gives you the opportunity to pursue something of great personal meaning while making an impact on your community.
- Retired principles or teachers can find fulfillment, and use their, expertise tutoring disadvantaged children or youth
- Professionals Services (general term encompassing many careers) can volunteer with non-profits who are often looking for qualified individuals to help run campaigns
- Healthcare professional (nurse, midwife, pharmacist, physician) many non-profits would value your skills, but there are also opportunities within your community – medication coach, community health worker, or healthcare advocate, for example.
Turn your Hobby into an Opportunity
Is there something that you’re passionate about that would lend itself to a volunteer engagement? You get to indulge in a beloved activity all the while experiencing the same benefits of volunteering because you’re doing both simultaneously!
Here are a few ideas to lead you in the right direction:
- Woodworking – is there anything better than turning the blank canvas of a piece of wood into something that looks good, and benefits those who use it? An organization that helps build homes for the less fortunate would benefit from your carpentry skills during construction.
- Animals – humane societies and shelters depend on volunteers to foster animals, or simply give rescued pets some TLC. A casual walk is good for Fido, and you!
- Cooking/Baking – love nothing more than experimenting with food? How about the satisfaction of providing someone with a warm meal? One of these opportunities would be a great use of your passion for food: soup kitchen volunteer, meals on wheels helper, mentor chef, food co-op assistant.
There are plenty of resources available online for those who wish to become involved with a cause or within the community. Here are a few we found:
–CARP (formerly the Canadian Association of Retired Persons)
As advocates of Active Living we can’t stress how important it is to embrace the mental and emotional aspect of your wellbeing. Volunteering your time to a cause close to your heart has so many benefits, but one of the most important is that is allows you to stay social and connect with others. In the meantime, if you need someone to bounce ideas off of, we’re always here to lend an ear.