Advertisement
retirement

Senior Corps Lets You Give Back as a Volunteer

Helping your community in retirement can also help you connect with others.

For Linda Knott, age 66, of Flagstaff, Ariz., volunteering was her foot in the door to the community she now calls home. “I moved here, and I didn’t know a soul,” says Knott. Now, she volunteers her time with Senior Corps, a national volunteering organization for people age 55 and older. As a “senior companion,” she assists elderly and homebound women with daily tasks, and she has made a tremendous difference in people’s lives, says Erin Kruse, Flagstaff’s Senior Corps project director. In Flagstaff, Knott is one of many volunteers who participate in the wide variety of Senior Corps programs.

Many older adults across the U.S. have sought volunteering opportunities as a way to feel healthier in retirement, according to a recent UnitedHealthcare survey. Older Americans view retirement as a new beginning with new goals, says Ben Kehl, vice president of member experience for UnitedHealthcare Medicare and Retirement. “Far from slowing down, respondents said they view retirement as a time to dive into their passions and hobbies, volunteer in their communities and perhaps even start a new type of employment,” he says.

Advertisement - Article continues below

While Senior Corps is a network of national service programs, older adults serve in their local communities. Not only do Senior Corps volunteers receive training for their program, training often connects volunteers with a community of other older adults, providing a social support for many volunteers.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

Volunteers find a sense of belonging, says Deisha Finley, Senior Corps’ manager in Knoxville, Tenn. “It gives you a sense of purpose,” says Linda Walker, age 63, who volunteers in the Corps’ retired senior volunteer program in Knoxville. And volunteers say their experiences have been very rewarding. “I get a lot more than I give,” says Bernice McLemore, age 72, a foster grandparent volunteer in Knoxville.

Many volunteers have experienced loss and are drawn to helping others as a way of coping, says Kruse. Working with children as a foster grandparent in Knoxville is particularly valuable for Haroldene Hobbs, age 66, whose son recently died by suicide. “It’s been so rewarding to know that I can be of help to the children,” says Hobbs.

Advertisement - Article continues below

Senior volunteers reported significant increases in their emotional wellbeing from volunteering, according to a recent survey conducted by Senior Corps. After two years of service in the program, 84% reported improved health and 78% reported feeling less depressed.

Various Ways to Volunteer in Retirement

About 200,000 volunteers participate every year in Senior Corps’ range of programs, from helping with disaster relief to renovating homes. Volunteering lets you put your lifetime skills to use in a new way, says Samantha Warfield, spokesperson for Senior Corps. If you were an accountant, you could be a volunteer tax preparer in the springtime, for instance. “On the flipside, if you’re eager to work in a new field, it can be a great way to try something new,” she says.

The volunteers who serve as “foster grandparents” assist teachers in classrooms anywhere from 10 to 30 hours a week to help at-risk students. “The teachers are very grateful for the foster grandparents in their classroom because the volunteers can provide additional one-on-one support that many students need,” says Kruse.

The Department of Veterans Affairs recently began engaging Senior Corps volunteers to support the VA’s Choose Home Initiative, enabling older veterans to receive needed homemaker and daily living support so they can remain in their own homes.

Ultimately, if you have a passion, Senior Corps can find you a purpose, Warfield says. You can learn more about how to volunteer and volunteering opportunities at NationalService.Gov/SeniorCorps.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Most Popular

18 Things You Can't Return to Amazon
Smart Buying

18 Things You Can't Return to Amazon

Before tossing these items into your virtual shopping cart, be sure to read Amazon's return policy first.
September 17, 2020
Election 2020: Joe Biden's Tax Plans
taxes

Election 2020: Joe Biden's Tax Plans

With the economy in trouble, tax policy takes on added importance in the 2020 presidential election. So, let's take a look at what Joe Biden has said …
September 18, 2020
7 Foreign Countries Luring Americans to Work Abroad During the Pandemic
careers

7 Foreign Countries Luring Americans to Work Abroad During the Pandemic

Work remotely – really remotely – in these appealing destinations offering special visas for American workers.
September 18, 2020

Recommended

7 Foreign Countries Luring Americans to Work Abroad During the Pandemic
careers

7 Foreign Countries Luring Americans to Work Abroad During the Pandemic

Work remotely – really remotely – in these appealing destinations offering special visas for American workers.
September 18, 2020
Back in School Decades Later
Empty Nesters

Back in School Decades Later

Getting a degree or certificate in retirement or later in life can have its advantages.
September 2, 2020
Even in a Pandemic, Some Employers Are Hiring
Coronavirus and Your Money

Even in a Pandemic, Some Employers Are Hiring

During COVID-19, you may have to use different strategies to find the job you want.
August 26, 2020
Back to School, Ready or Not
Technology

Back to School, Ready or Not

This Florida teacher’s school let families choose distance learning or in-person classes.
August 26, 2020