Anyone looking for a senior volunteer program may at first wonder what opportunities are available; then which they should volunteer in based on their personal abilities, skills, and interests. Such considerations may also have to do with the size of one’s community. Fortunately, there are opportunities wherever there is a need for help, or attention given to special situations. Stories of individuals are found on Senior Journal.com.
The Way We Get By is a PBS program featuring the experiences of a local group of senior volunteers in Bangor, Maine, who greet returning troops from Iraq or Afghanistan—or those departing—with things ranging from cookies to cell phones for personal use. They have become locally famous to troops, and play an important role in morale-boosting and showing a patriotic spirit. This is the way of coping with their own problems of illness and aging, by contributing to others. Those with a similar spirit could find themselves involved in honoring our troops through efforts in their own communities.
Helping Kids Read
Experience Corps offers those in a senior volunteer program the chance to pass important educational skills to children. Targeting the at-risk children from low-income families in crowded schools, a study done by The Atlantic Philanthropies determined that “students with Experience Corps tutors made over 60% more progress” in learning two vital reading skills—reading comprehension, and sounding-out new words. Those involved in senior volunteer programs who liked learning, could pass on this priceless gift to children in their community’s schools.
A Harris poll from 2007 found that only 8% of adults rated social responsibility highly, as an important aspect of living. The “Mature” group which was polled—those 62 and over—were more likely to take social responsibility seriously. They are among those in senior volunteer programs who may not be able to contribute as much time or money to societal needs, but emphasize the quality of effort.
There is a variety of programs for senior volunteers, but when none seem to match one’s particular interests, the Bangor, Maine group has proven that seniors can create their own outlets for volunteer efforts. If your interest is gardening, and there is no senior volunteer group related to gardening in your town, create one. Call the local businesses, churches, hospitals, or schools and see if you help beautify and maintain their green areas. Gather some friends with the same interest, and you become a new “senior volunteer program” of your own!