Volunteer…..You Have Something To Give!!!
So…you’re retired or you’re quickly approaching retirement. How do you plan to spend your time? Some of you may conjure up images of driving a golf cart over fairways and sand-traps. Others may envision themselves in a boat on a beautiful lake reelin’ in the catch of the day. Still others may resign themselves to a retirement of sitting in front of the tube watching the news all day and thinking that this world is going to that place opposite of Heaven!
Let me try and sell you on another idea…… your community needs you! What I’m talking about is using your skills and talents as a volunteer. I work for an organization called Senior Connections, The Capital Area Agency on Aging, and I am responsible for promoting volunteerism among seniors in Greater Richmond. I can assure you that there are many organizations that are seeking enthusiastic, energetic, and compassionate volunteers. They rely heavily upon and, in some cases, have a dire need for, volunteers like you.
You say you’re not talented? Well perhaps you need to redefine for yourself what that word means.
Here are some ways I see the community using your talents.
Some organizations need volunteers with money management skills
Are you good at managing money? Consider volunteering for an organization in your community that is dedicated to helping others manage their money. No accounting degree, you say? If you think this should stop you, then consider the case of Roy, one of our volunteers with the Senior Connections Money Management Program. Roy doesn’t hold a degree in accounting or finance, but that hasn’t stopped him from using the money management skills that he has learned during his life to improve someone else’s life. In a recent conversation, he expressed how much joy it brings him to teach others in the community how to pay bills on time, how to budget for unexpected expenses, and how to guard against scams, abuse, and other financial fraud.
Other organizations need volunteers who can plan and organize
Perhaps you’re a born planner! If so, you have something in common with Denise, who volunteers as a Blood Donor Ambassador for the American Red Cross. Denise is perfect for this job; she used to be an event planner for her church. As a Blood Donor Ambassador, she is responsible for checking in the donors and for making sure they get scheduled for their next donation. In addition, she ensures that the donation area is kept clean and stocked with necessary supplies.
Hospitals need volunteers to help assist patients
Perhaps you have a background working in the health care industry. Maybe you have no experience in health care but simply have a heart to help those who are sick. If either of these credentials matches your own, then hospital volunteering may be for you! Allison has been volunteering at Bon Secours Memorial Regional Medical Center for almost 7 years. A self-described “multi-task person” she loves to meet new people and help others. In fact, Allison is such an outstanding volunteer that she has been featured in instructional videos for the hospital that demonstrate the correct way for patients to be transported in wheelchairs.
Volunteer at a food bank and help feed the hungry
Many Americans struggle with food insecurity, making food banks a necessary source of food for these individuals. Food banks are in need of volunteers to help sort and distribute donations. In addition, some food banks need volunteers to package meals and to deliver them to homebound individuals. This is why Martha is proud to have volunteered with Meals on Wheels for 17 years now. Martha enjoys helping others who cannot help themselves and finds it particularly rewarding when she is able to provide food for needy individuals during the holidays and in times of inclement weather.
Listening itself is a skill- use it as a volunteer!
Are you a good listener? Are you empathetic? The willingness to just sit and compassionately listen to another person may be one of the greatest gifts we could give someone. Such is the case with Suzanne, a volunteer for Chesterfield County Aging and Disability Services. Suzanne does Telephone Reassurance, simply phoning individuals to make sure that they are doing okay. She provides socially isolated seniors a connection, a caring voice in the world. Suzanne says that she is motivated to provide this service because she would like someone to call her if she was lonely and isolated. She also told me that it makes her day if she is able to end the phone conversation with a joke or a laugh.
YOU have something to give
So you see, it is important that you acknowledge your own value. Please, never feel like you are too old or that you have nothing to offer! There is always someone who can use your help in a volunteering capacity. Spending your days on the golf course or on a boat out in the water is well-earned fun, but enjoyable and fulfilling experiences come with using your time and talents to help others. It will also decrease your tube time, which— given all of the grim news these days—is probably a good thing!