Volunteer opportunities for retirees

Published 3:31 pm Friday, July 23, 2010

Dear Savvy Senior,

Wheres the best place to find good volunteer opportunities? Since I retired, Id like to do a some volunteering, but most of the opportunities that I know of dont get me too excited What can you tell me?

Unexcited Volunteer

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Dear Volunteer,

For many retirees, finding a volunteer opportunity that satisfies your interests, utilizes your talents and matches your availability can be challenging. Fortunately there are some great new resources that can help you search for volunteer opportunities in your area, or even create one on your own. Heres what you should know.

Getting Started

Volunteering is a great way for retirees to make a positive contribution to the community, not to mention its good for your health too. But how can you find the right opportunity for you? Here are some key questions to ask yourself to help get you pointed in the right direction. &bsp;

&bsp;&bsp; &bsp;What types of organizations or activities are you interested in?

&bsp;&bsp; &bsp;How much time are you willing to give: Once a week, a few times a month, or every so often?

&bsp;&bsp; &bsp;What kind of skills can you offer a volunteer organization? &bsp;

&bsp;&bsp; &bsp;Where and how do you want to serve?

&bsp;&bsp; &bsp;What do you want to gain from your experience (for example, meet new people, learn new skills, help those in need, exposure to a particular issue)?

Where to Look

One of the best resources for locating volunteer opportunities in your community is at serve.gov, a website managed by the Corporation for National and Community Service. Serve.gov works with a massive search engine called All for Good that lets you look for volunteer opportunities in your community that appeal to you. Hosted by Google, All for Good lists thousands of opportunities from nonprofits and volunteer listing organizations across the U.S.

And, if you dont find anything in your area that sparks your interest, serve.gov can even help you create your own volunteer project. They offer an online do-it-yourself toolkit to help you develop a project, and will let you register it on the All for Good search engine so you can recruit others to join you.

Another great site that can help you search for do-good opportunities is createthegood.org. Developed by AARP, this site is geared towards 50-plus volunteers and offers a bevy of tools, tips and videos that are very helpful.

Senior Corps

If youre age 55 or older, the Senior Corps is another volunteer option you should check into. Senior Corps matches retirees with community projects and organizations that need experienced volunteer help. It provides training and guidance and gives volunteers the opportunity to choose specific projects that suit their interests, talents, experience and availability. Here are the three programs Senior Corps offers:

&bsp;&bsp; &bsp;RSVP: A one-stop-shopping for volunteers who want to find rewarding community service opportunities with flexible time commitments. RSVP volunteers are also eligible to receive reimbursement for mileage and insurance coverage while on assignment.

&bsp;&bsp; &bsp;Senior Companion Program: This brings together volunteers with homebound seniors who have difficulty with day-to-day living tasks. Senior companions serve between 15 and 40 hours per week making routine visits, assisting with shopping, light chores and interacting with doctors. Some volunteers may even qualify to earn a tax-free, hourly stipend.

&bsp;&bsp; &bsp;Foster Grandparent Program: This program matchers volunteers with kids in the

community that have exceptional needs. Volunteers

provide 15 to 40 hours of

service per week and may also qualify for the tax-free hourly stipend.

To learn more about Senior Corps and find out what may be available in your area, visit seniorcorps.gov or call 800-424-8867. &bsp;

Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit SavvySenior.org.

Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of The Savvy Senior book.