17 Best Volunteer Activities For Retired Seniors in 2023
Retired senior volunteer programs are a great way to give back to the community after acquiring a lifetime of knowledge and experience. Volunteering can be a great opportunity to put this wealth of wisdom to good use and give back to your community. It can also help to provide a sense of purpose and fulfillment in your retirement years while helping you to stay active, social and healthy.
Many schools, community centers, and nonprofit organizations offer mentorship programs. You can join these programs to help young individuals and make a difference in their lives. You can choose a specific interest like education, career development, and life skills. For example, you can help a high school student prepare for college or share your professional expertise with a young entrepreneur. Senior volunteers can also look for opportunities with United Way. It is an organization constantly working towards improving health, financial stability, and education access for communities.
If you have a soft spot for animals, volunteering at an animal shelter can be a rewarding experience. These shelters often look for volunteers to help with tasks like cleaning, feeding, and grooming animals. And while you are at it, you can also enjoy some time providing the animals comfort and companionship. You can look for “retired and senior volunteer programs near me” to find animal shelters in your area.
Volunteering at a community garden is another way to contribute to a better community, connect with nature, and socialize. The programs involve activities like planting, watering, harvesting, and pruning plants. You can make the best use of the fresh outdoor air while nurturing the plants. These programs also provide an opportunity to meet like-minded individuals, make new friends, and expand your social circle. You also get to enjoy the fruits of your labor by harvesting produce.
Lending a helping hand at a hospice care center can give you a sense of fulfillment. These centers provide end-of-life support and care for patients and their families. Some of the activities include child care assistance and bereavement support. In addition, you can assist with emotional support, running errands, or managing administrative tasks. These centers also curate training programs for senior volunteers to become acquainted with the tasks. Healthcare facilities like the Tufts Medical Center offer volunteering opportunities for seniors. You can directly contact the representative to learn more about their programs.
Alternatively, hospice pet therapy programs use trained animals to visit patients. These programs provide joy and comfort during a patient’s final days. As a senior volunteer, you can offer your trained pets to be a part of this program too.
Multiple platforms specifically cater to online tutoring. If you have expertise in a specific subject, you can consider volunteering as an online tutor. Whether it is math, sciences, languages, or art, your teaching experience can make a real impact on young learners. The best part is that you can do this from the comfort of your home. This act of service can inspire and motivate students to achieve their academic goals while you enjoy the satisfaction of sharing your wisdom with the next generation.
Adult education programs offer retired senior teachers the opportunity to teach and train young adults in various subjects. You can arrange offline/online classes or workshops on different topics. Finding related programs is not difficult. You can look for “volunteering opportunities near me” and sign up to mentor children and the youth.
If you are an environmentalist, you can join ecological and humanitarian projects as a volunteer. These programs are great for senior volunteers who’d like to play an active role in protecting and improving the planet for future generations. Organizations, like The Virginia Senior Environment Corps (VSEC), provide volunteering activities that include clean-up drives for beaches and parks, tree plantation drives, awareness drives, or wildlife monitoring activities.
Disaster relief programs
When a natural disaster strikes, multiple organizations look for volunteers they can rely on. You can join programs or disaster recovery centers that specifically manage relief operations during wildfires, hurricanes, floods, and earthquakes. As a senior, you can take up volunteering activities like distributing food and water, cleaning debris, and providing shelter and first aid kits.
Are you interested in educational journals and books? Well, you can turn this passion into a volunteering opportunity. Join a local library and partake in various activities that can improve literacy in the community. You can lead book clubs, organize story time for kids, assist young minds with computer use, and shelve books. You can also initiate and promote a volunteer program that other senior retirees can help with.
Food banks and soup kitchens are traditional programs that aim to provide nutritious meals to the less fortunate members of the community. If this activity interests you, join a local food bank for community service opportunities. You can help with preparing meals, sorting food items, packing food boxes, serving/distributing food, or cleaning. This volunteering opportunity encourages team effort and helps fight against hunger in the community.
Many organizations, like Feeding America and Salvation Army, offer opportunities for elderly citizens across cities. You can also look for local soup kitchens or homeless shelters in your area that run similar programs to serve meals to those in need. If you aren’t acquainted with soup kitchens near you, you can do a simple search on the internet for city-specific options by looking for “soup kitchen volunteers in Seattle, WA,” or “soup kitchen in Raleigh, NC.”
Arts and culture
Many local and national institutes organize arts and cultural events. You can volunteer to provide assistance with tasks such as managing art exhibits and ushering at recitals, concerts, and plays. You can also consider supporting independent films, music, and theater events. These opportunities not only allow you to contribute to the community but also promote art and culture on a large scale.
Volunteer for helplines
Do you have a gift for providing emotional support during a crisis? If yes, you can consider volunteering for healthcare support lines. Emergency or mental health helplines are always looking for help to offer guidance and empathy to those calling in for help. Your ability to convince vulnerable people in tough situations can truly make a difference. Additionally, you can impart some knowledge about how to lead a fulfilling life while providing comfort and reassurance.
As the name suggests, heritage preservation is the act of preserving and conserving historic buildings and ancient crafts. If interested, you can look for organizations that actively work towards the preservation of buildings, historic sites, and landmarks. Many organizations have volunteering programs open to seniors like you. You could be assigned tasks such as cataloging historical items, assisting with restoration projects, or providing guided tours.
Helping the homebound
Many seniors with health concerns or mobility issues are homebound. Volunteering for home visiting programs in your community can make a real difference in their lives. You can offer assistance with grocery shopping, household chores, or running errands, and spending quality time with them. Your kindness and presence can bring joy and comfort to those feeling isolated or lonely.
Museum docent programs
Your love for art, culture, history, and science can turn into another volunteering opportunity at museums. Some museums offer docent positions. You can be the face of the museum and provide a memorable experience for visitors of all ages. As a volunteer, you can also provide group learning activities like museum tours and demonstrations, or manage desk operations. Museums such as the High Museum of Art, Smithsonian Institute, Old Capitol Museum, Harvard Museums of Science and Culture, National Indo-American Museum, and American Museums and Gardens have volunteer programs that are open to seniors. Send in an application on their websites via email and wait for a positive response.
Homeless shelters rely heavily on volunteers to look after the marginalized in the community. You can lend a helping hand as a senior volunteer by providing meals, delivering clothes, assisting with healthcare, teaching self-learning skills, and offering companionship to shelter residents. Tasks such as serving food, sorting donations, and organizing essentials can also be undertaken.
If you are a veteran, you can contribute to your community by joining veteran organizations or programs. You can assist with fundraising drives, arrange social events for specific causes, and provide transportation and healthcare assistance to fellow veterans in need. You can seek senior volunteering opportunities at the Disabled American Veteran (DAV), the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP), and The United States Department of Veterans Affairs.
Many religious organizations have established in-house outreach programs to help the downtrodden members of the community. You can get in touch with the representatives for volunteering opportunities for seniors. The activities often include organizing food pantries, holiday events, and clothing drives. By volunteering with these organizations, you can contribute to community efforts and make a positive impact on the lives of those in need.
Various organizations welcome volunteers of all ages to help with their initiative. Some might even require you to submit your availability schedule along with your application in order to provide you with further details. You can look up their application process on their website.
March of Dimes
This is a nonprofit organization that works towards supporting the health of babies and mothers. You can participate in fundraising efforts and community events and become an advocate for the cause. The organization also provides virtual and at-home volunteer opportunities, including activities:
- Building sibling kits
- Collecting donations for gratitude gifts for healthcare providers
- Sending postcards for policymakers
These activities can help spread awareness about healthy aging and healthcare services.
This is an independent federal agency that connects seniors above 55 with community organizations and programs that need help. As an AmeriCorps volunteer, you can choose to perform a variety of roles, such as mentoring and tutoring youth, providing companionship to isolated seniors, and assisting with disaster relief efforts.
AARP Foundation Experience Corps
Another option for senior volunteers is the AARP Foundation Experience Corps. It is a national literacy program that uses the time and talents of older adults aged 50 and up to improve the literacy skills of children in low-income neighborhoods. As a volunteer with Experience Corps, you can help children one-on-one or in small groups, as well as assist with the development and implementation of literacy programs.
If you’re a retired business professional, you can consider volunteering with SCORE. It is a national nonprofit organization that provides free business mentoring and education services to entrepreneurs and small business owners. Once you join the program, you can share your knowledge and expertise to help others succeed in their careers.
Foster Grandparents Program
This program is a national initiative that offers seniors the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of at-risk children and youth in their communities. If you enjoy being around kids, this could be the perfect volunteering opportunity for you. You can provide one-on-one mentoring to children who need additional help with receptive, productive, and social skills.
St. Vincent de Paul Group (SVDP)
The Society of St. Vincent de Paul is an international organization of lay Catholics that offers volunteer opportunities to people of all ages and backgrounds. As a volunteer with St. Vincent de Paul, you can get involved in a variety of programs and services aimed at helping those in need. These programs include:
- Feeding the hungry
- Providing clothing and shelter to the homeless
- Visiting the sick and homebound
The group also has a functioning pantry where you can help with sorting and organizing donated food, distributing groceries to clients, or helping with administrative tasks. Another way to get involved with St. Vincent de Paul is through its thrift stores. These stores offer pre-owned clothing, household items, and furniture at low prices to the needy. In addition, as a volunteer visitor, you can provide companionship, emotional support, and spiritual care to secluded members of society.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
The international organization works relentlessly to eliminate poverty and attain economic growth and social development across countries and communities. You can be a part of the volunteering programs curated by the UNDP. The UNDP volunteer jobs include:
- Promoting sustainable development
- Reducing poverty
- Protecting the environment
One of their key programs, the Volunteers Program, offers opportunities for seniors to volunteer their time and skills in support of UNDP’s work in over 150 countries worldwide. You can work on projects related to climate change, gender equality, or disaster risk reduction.
The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, VITA, is a program curated by the United Way. You can participate in the program by assisting low and moderate-income individuals and families in filing tax returns. Apart from this, the United Way offers other volunteer opportunities where you can mentor students, organize food drives, and build utility kits for families in need.
Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP)
Led by the Corporation for National and Community Service, RSVP connects seniors with volunteer opportunities in their communities. As an RSVP volunteer, you can choose to partake in a wide range of roles, including tutoring, mentoring, and helping with disaster relief efforts.
Meals on Wheels
This program delivers meals to seniors with health concerns or mobility issues. It also offers volunteer opportunities for seniors looking forward to serving the community. You can be a part of this program and help provide nutritious meals to fellow seniors in need. In the process, you can enjoy the opportunity to interact with others and make meaningful connections.