Retirement has come to take on new meaning in recent years. Where it used to mean more time to sleep and doze on the porch with the pooch or to sit on a beach in Florida, now it’s more a time to indulge in the things that you’ve been wanting to do for years! It’s time to do things that give your life meaning and purpose, other than that of breadwinning perhaps. And today’s retirees have a whole host of skills they can draw upon to do good works in their communities or all over the world!
The Baby Boomers are already out there en force, playing with all their new found free time and making a difference. Here are some of the post-retirement activities keeping them vibrant and active.
Habitat for Humanity
This is a nonprofit organization that builds and repairs houses with (not for) people in need of shelter all over the world. Habitat for Humanity volunteers work side-by-side with the prospective home owner helping to build the home, but also the sense of pride and community of the qualified buyer. Retirees make up most of the 6000 “RV Care-A-Vanners” who drive their RVs from site to site helping with the construction. They pay for their own expenses, but often the gas and mileage are tax deductible.
The USO and VASP (Veterans Affairs Volunteer Service Program of the Military Order of the Purple Heart) are two of many veteran organizations pledged to improving the quality of life for our military veterans. Volunteers range from making coffee to creating shrines and tributes.
You can imagine hundreds of ways to accomplish this and choose one to appeals to your own skill sets and talents. Childrens hospitals and hospices, schools, boyscouts and girlscouts, church groups, shelters, etc… from teaching children to read, to keeping them company in the hospital. Helping children can be a powerful way to give back to both the community and generations to come.
This is a popular trend with a confusing title, to my way of thinking – who wouldn’t volunteer to go on vacation haha! But it actually refers to vacations of a few days to a few weeks where you travel to all parts of the world and do your “good work” there, anything from teaching language, reading or writing skills, building, caring for land or wildlife, etc… It’s a great way to see the world and make a difference at the same time.
Hunger relief and disaster relief need volunteers to work at shelters, collect and distribute food and supplies. In addition, any professional skills in medicine, nursing, pharmacy, etc… are always needed in disaster relief areas.
If you love history or enjoy chatting with tourists and members of your community, this can be a great way to fulfill that part of your nature while lending to the quality and charm of the experience. You can also be involved in maintenance and fundraising to restore the facility as well.
This is a little more seasonal work, but political campaigns can’t function without volunteers to man the phones, stuff envelopes, make coffee, and run the booths on election day.
Volunteer lawyers and legal advocates are always needed in many organizations – simply find the one that appeals to your talents and interests.
Animal Shelters and Humane Societies
Animal lovers are always in huge demand at the many animal shelters and humane societies across the nation. Rescuing animals at disaster site locations needs volunteers too. You can foster a pet temporarily until shelter is found. You could also have your own pet certified for a pet therapy program to gain permission to take him or her to a hospital or nursing home to help cheer the residents.
Clearly there are hundreds of ways to keep busy and extremely useful once you leave the “workforce”. Even more clearly, given the presence of these “9 of many” charitable organizations around the world, volunteers are the life and breath of these good works. The rewards to the human spirit are boundless in such endeavors, for the recipients and for the donors. It might be time for a new word for “retirement”.
10 Best Volunteer Activities for Retirement by Beth Brindle at How Stuff Works