11 Best Organizations to Join in 2023 (Volunteering for Seniors)
Volunteering is a wonderful way to interact with others, make friends, learn new skills, or simply give back to the community. Studies show that older adults who actively volunteer also enjoy health benefits like better mental and emotional well-being and increased mobility. Let’s take a look at some of the senior volunteer opportunities available, the upsides to it and of course what to consider before you get started.
Benefits of volunteering for seniors
Volunteering activities have a positive impact on the health of seniors. Here’s why volunteering is good for you:
Improved physical health
Seniors who volunteer are more likely to maintain mobility, flexibility, and overall physical fitness. According to a review in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, seniors who volunteered for about 100 hours or more every year were 17% less likely to develop physical functioning limitations than those who did not volunteer at all.
Optimism and a sense of purpose
The act of service provides a sense of optimism and purpose and often boosts self-esteem. Post retirement, volunteering also allows you to explore your passions and find new ways to stay active and engaged.
You can establish deep, meaningful relationships by working toward a common goal with other volunteers. It brings support and companionship and allows you to expand your social circle.
Improved mental health
Volunteering can help retired seniors fight loneliness and isolation, leading to improved mental health.
Positive impact on the community
Volunteering positively impacts not just you as an individual but also your community. It helps address societal challenges like homelessness, poverty, and environmental concerns. Seeing you volunteer may also inspire others and foster a culture of goodness and service.
Insurance and stipend
Seniors may receive benefits like a stipend and insurance coverage by volunteering with specific organizations. For example, the AmeriCorps Seniors RSVP program offers a stipend to volunteers who serve a certain number of hours per week or month. Additionally, volunteers are covered by personal and accident insurance. The availability of these benefits may differ depending on the program or organization, so it’s crucial to inquire about the same before committing to volunteer work.
Types of volunteering opportunities for senior citizens
Here are a few volunteering ideas and opportunities seniors can explore to stay active and engaged:
Soup kitchen volunteering
A soup kitchen is a common place where free meals are served to people in need. Many organizations and nonprofits run these kitchens to ensure the less fortunate don’t go hungry. As a retired volunteer at a soup kitchen nearby, you can prepare and serve meals, organize food donations, and help with kitchen clean-up.
Tutoring and mentoring
Retired seniors with a background in education or a penchant for teaching can volunteer as a tutor or mentor. You can work with children in local schools or community centers, help adults improve their literacy, help immigrants better their English language skills, or assist with job training programs.
Community service for peers
Isolation and loneliness in senior citizens can be a cause for concern and one fantastic way to help your peers is to step out and offer help to others your age. For instance, you can visit other seniors in the neighborhood who live alone, run errands for those with mobility issues, or assist dependent elderly people with household tasks.
Community garden volunteering
A community garden is a shared land where people come together to grow crops. It offers a source of healthy food, promotes physical activity, and creates a sense of unity. You can contribute your time and expertise to upkeep community gardens by planting and harvesting produce, digging, watering plants, and helping with garden design and organization.
Volunteering with NGOs
Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) address various issues, from human rights to environmental preservation. You can volunteer with NGOs and participate in activities that fit your interests and abilities.
Animal shelter volunteering
Animal shelters are always in need of volunteers who can help feed, walk, and play with animals. If you love animals, search for local shelters or rescue organizations with volunteer opportunities for seniors.
Retirees passionate about the environment can volunteer with organizations that work toward conserving the environment and protecting nature. You may get an opportunity to plant trees, clean up parks and beaches, and inform people about environmental concerns.
Volunteering with public libraries
Volunteering with public libraries is an excellent way for book lovers to share their passion for reading. Retired seniors can help librarians shelve books, maintain collections, and share information about library activities, including classes, events, and exhibits. Brooklyn, NY, Seattle, WA, Evanston, IL, and Princeton, NJ are a few places with public libraries that have great volunteering opportunities.
Apart from the above, retired seniors can explore a specific field for volunteering that falls under their expertise. For instance, if you’re an expert in marketing and strategic planning, you can become a consultant for a non-profit organization (NPO). Similarly, if you’re a retired medical practitioner, you can mentor young individuals wanting to work in the field.
11 best volunteering organizations to consider in 2023
Here are some well-known organizations you can consider volunteering for:
The United Nations Volunteers (UNV)
The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) program is administered by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Through UNV, volunteers of all ages and backgrounds, including retired senior citizens, can support global initiatives for sustainable development. The organization provides volunteer jobs, also called assignments, in areas like peace, security, health, education, and environment. These assignments can be short- or long-term, lasting from a week to a year or more. When providing you with volunteering opportunities, UNV considers your language, area of expertise, how much time you can dedicate, and your qualifications and experience.
As a retired senior, you can volunteer with UNV online or in person, depending on the program’s needs and your preference. Online volunteering jobs may include translating documents, writing, and teaching. You can also extend administrative support to UN offices or help with research and project development. UNV has an elaborate recruitment process, and they take care of almost all your expenses during the assignment period. Still, retirees should carefully consider their physical health and project requirements before applying to any UNV program.
United Way is an NPO that aims to improve people’s lives by providing education, financial stability, and health facilities. Retired seniors can contribute to the organization’s efforts by becoming tutors, mentors, or advocates. Those with specific backgrounds, such as nursing or finance, can use their expertise to support new parents or assist low-income individuals with tax preparation. Seniors can also participate in more hands-on tasks, like repairing or beautifying community centers, reading to kids at a nearby school, distributing donated items, and writing messages for military personnel.
United Way provides volunteer opportunities in almost every state and has a strong force of over 1.5 million volunteers. The organization is present in over 30 counties and towns in California alone, including the United Way of Greater Los Angeles. It has 50 centers in North Carolina, including Catawba County United Way in Hickory, NC, and United Way of Pitt County in Greenville, NC. Over 70 counties in Texas also have a United Way center, including the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas in North Texas.
You can locate a local United Way center by visiting the organization’s official website and using their “Find Your United Way” tool. Another option is to search for “United Way volunteer center” online, followed by your city or county name. For example, “United Way volunteer center Montgomery, AL” or “United Way volunteer center Dallas, TX.” This should bring up information about a center that serves your area. Once you have identified your local United Way center, scroll through their website or contact them directly for the latest volunteer opportunities for the elderly and retirees.
Tufts Medical Center
Tufts Medical Center is a teaching hospital in Boston, MA, where you, as a senior volunteer, can assist with patient care and non-medical work. For instance, you can provide administrative support to hospital staff, work in the gift shop or cafeteria, escort patients, or deliver newspapers, books, and puzzles.
Older adults interested in becoming a Tufts Medical Center volunteer must fill out a form on the hospital’s website and create an account to access their volunteer portal. The form requires you to mention your availability, location details, emergency contact, language proficiency, and skills. Before signing up, remember that the center’s volunteering department requires you to give a minimum commitment of 100 hours over an extended period.
March of Dimes
President Franklin D. Roosevelt founded the March of Dimes in 1938 with the aim of eradicating polio. Since then, the NPO has broadened its scope to include the prevention of birth deformities, preterm birth, and infant mortality in its goals.
March of Dimes offers many opportunities for senior citizens who prefer to volunteer from home. For example, you could:
- Assemble personal care kits or write notes of hope for parents with premature or unexpected births using the organization’s how-to guide.
- Organize postcard campaigns with friends and neighbors, encouraging policymakers to prioritize maternal and infant health.
- Express your appreciation by sending gifts or meals to healthcare providers.
To become a March of Dimes volunteer, visit their website and browse available opportunities. Once you find a suitable one, fill out an online form with your personal details and availability. A March of Dimes representative will then contact you for further formalities.
Habitat for Humanity
Habitat for Humanity aims to build and improve residential places for underprivileged families. Retired senior citizens can volunteer with the NPO to help repair homes or participate in administrative tasks and fundraising activities. You can also work at a local Habitat for Humanity retail store and assist with customer service, donation receipts, organizing inventory, and preparing items for resale.
Habitat for Humanity centers are operational in many places, including Macomb County, MI, Catawba Valley of Hickory, NC, Greater Rochester, NY, Snohomish County in Everett, WA, and Los Angeles, CA. Each county has a dedicated Habitat for Humanity website page. Input your zip code or state name on the website’s locating tool to find the nearest office, and then contact them to express your interest in volunteering.
The Alzheimer’s Association
The Alzheimer’s Association is an NPO offering assistance, information, and advocacy to people with Alzheimer’s disease and their families. According to the organization’s study, over six million in our country already have Alzheimer’s. The study also reveals that family members of dementia patients pay 70% of their healthcare costs, significantly impacting their financial stability.
As a retired senior, there are various ways in which you can contribute to the Alzheimer’s Association and ease the burden of lower-income families. You can volunteer by stepping out and working in the community or from home. A few opportunities include:
- Helping organize awareness campaigns and walks to educate people about Alzheimer’s.
- Participating in fundraising events like Walk to End Alzheimer’s or helping with registration and check-ins.
- Joining an event committee and using your abilities to recruit, secure sponsorships, train participants, and promote the organization’s events.
All volunteers of the Alzheimer’s Association receive comprehensive training and education and are part of a tight-knit community.
Feeding America aims to end hunger in the country by advocating for policies to fight poverty, reducing wastage, and providing food and groceries to those in need. As a volunteer, you can assist with stocking, packing, and distributing food boxes, besides performing other administrative tasks. You can also help collect leftover produce from fields after harvest and look after the food bank’s community garden or pantry.
To volunteer with Feeding America, you must register through their website and find a partner food bank nearby. The organization trains and supports its volunteers and ensures they have proper sanitation equipment like masks, handwashing stations, and gloves to handle food safely. If you cannot visit food banks, you can volunteer online by promoting their fundraising activities and awareness campaigns.
Meals on Wheels
Meals on Wheels, with a network of over 5,000 locally-operated programs, delivers food boxes to senior citizens who cannot leave their homes. Retired seniors can join this network by registering with the organization online and volunteering to make no-contact deliveries.
Apart from food deliveries, you can volunteer with Meal on Wheels’ remote programs and help combat social isolation in seniors. The Friendly Chats initiative, for instance, allows you to connect with homebound seniors over the phone and provide a listening ear. You can also help ensure their safety by making structured check-in calls.
AmeriCorps Seniors RSVP
RSVP (Retired and Senior Volunteer Program) is a program by the government agency AmeriCorps Seniors. RSVP pairs seniors aged 55 and older with NPOs and other organizations that provide suitable volunteer work for the elderly. Senior RSVP members can take on various responsibilities that address their community needs, like tutoring, tax preparation, delivering meals to homebound seniors, and helping with disaster relief.
Inova Fairfax Medical Campus
Located in Fairfax County, VA, this hospital offers several volunteering opportunities for older adults. Depending on your abilities, you can help with patient support services, lend a hand at gift shops, or assist other departments. They have a selection process, an orientation program, and a minimum weekly shift. Fairfax hospital volunteers receive discounts in health and wellness programs and free annual flu shots.
Raleigh Rescue Mission
Raleigh Rescue Mission is an NPO that provides food, shelter, and recovery services to the homeless community in Raleigh, NC. Volunteering at their children’s care homes can involve various activities, such as playing with kids, assisting them with homework, organizing arts and crafts activities, and reading stories. You can also conduct monthly virtual prayer sessions to support the organization’s clients and staff emotionally. Before inducting volunteers, Raleigh Rescue Mission holds orientation and training programs and conducts interviews to spot prospective candidates.
Apart from these, you may find many other reputable and trustworthy organizations in your area that require urgent assistance. Websites like VolunteerMatch and JustServe can help you locate ongoing volunteer opportunities in your local community. These platforms usually provide detailed descriptions and reviews of the available opportunities and the qualification requirements.
What to consider before joining a volunteer program?
Here are some considerations before getting started with volunteering:
- If you’re looking to start volunteering as a senior, prioritize your health and well-being. Don’t engage in activities that might jeopardize your safety.
- Listen to your instincts and avoid organizations or opportunities that seem suspicious or questionable.
- Only choose reputable organizations and research thoroughly before signing up. Learn about their goals, past achievements, and success, and read their social media or website pages for recent and upcoming activities.
- Consider why you want to volunteer and how the opportunity aligns with your skills, schedule, and desired level of commitment.
Volunteering as a retired senior can be fulfilling and rewarding. However, it’s important to carefully analyze the opportunities and organizations before getting started for a safe and positive experience.