A retiree’s introduction to volunteering

The Baby Boom generation wanted to change the world. Though their ideals may have been buried beneath the baggage of growing up—careers, mortgages and raising children, they were never discarded.

Retirement for many Baby Boomers represents a second chance at fulfilling their urge to make a difference. You may already know the cause or causes that are important to you. Perhaps it’s children or the environment, but for many others, finding it may require a bit more self-discovery and research. If that describes you, then a self-assessment might be the best way to begin identifying volunteer opportunities that will be meaningful and relevant.

Your self-assessment should begin with an inventory of your skill set and interests. If you were a lawyer, then perhaps helping those who cannot afford legal services is the right path for you. Were you a successful small business owner? Becoming a mentor to small business owners and entrepreneurs might prove particularly satisfying. If you were a financial analyst, then maybe teaching math to inner city students is a rewarding use of your skills and interest.

You will also need to determine the level of commitment you are willing to make. Are you inclined to devote 5-10 hours a week, or are you willing and able to commit to an extended stretch of time? Do you see yourself working in your local community, or where the needs may be greater, whether in the U.S. or overseas?

If you are married, then this self-assessment may be a joint exercise to ascertain what fits best for both of you. Of course, if only one spouse is interested, you will need to discuss what level of commitment works for the other.

As you begin your search, you will find that there are plenty of resources for uncovering volunteer opportunities that quench your passion and match your level of commitment. You can begin your search by:

  • Talking with friends, family and colleagues.
  • Using a search tool, such as Serve.gov (run by the federal government), or one found on VolunteerMatch.org, Idealistic.org and AARP.org.
  • Calling charities you already support.
  • Googling “volunteering and the type of cause” (e.g., volunteering and education”) and see what the search engine comes up with.

If your vision of a rewarding retirement includes contributing your time and skills to improving the world around you, volunteering might be worth considering.

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