Your time, talents, and knowledge can be used in a variety of ways

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A few years ago, the word “retirement” would have conjured up images of old people gazing out the window, wondering what to do with the rest of their lives. Fortunately, that simply isn’t the case. Men and women are retiring, at average, between 62 and 65 years of age, and they are enjoying better health in their later years. Retirement can be a very active phase of life when “seniors” have time to devote to hobbies and interests that had previously taken a backseat to jobs and family obligations. Retiring from your job does not mean you are retiring from being a productive citizen, so if you are thinking of retiring, or are recently retired, and are looking for a way to stay active, consider volunteering for a community service group that could benefit from your time and talents. Think of your particular hobbies or interests, and then find a way to turn it into a volunteer opportunity. Here are a few suggestions for retirement volunteer options.

If You Like Animals

Volunteer at your local humane society by either fostering an animal, working a shift in the office, or donating supplies on a regular basis. Many shelter agencies need extra help when they host adoption days at local pet food stores. But if you prefer larger animals, consider volunteering at a therapeutic riding center. Not only will you be working with horses, you will have the added benefit of helping children and adults with their riding skills.

If You Like School

Volunteer to help prepare federal and state income tax returns for those who need help. Choose between two IRS-sponsored, national programs – the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA), which trains volunteer tax preparers to work with families eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit, or Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE), which trains volunteer tax preparers to work primarily with seniors, taxpayers 60 and over. For more information and tax preparation sites near you, visit http://www.irs.gov/Individuals/IRS-Tax-Volunteers. Also, get in touch with your local school system and ask about volunteering as a tutor, not just in math but in whichever subject you have an interest.

If You Like Nature

If you enjoy canoeing, hiking, and other aspects of the great outdoors, there are many ways you can volunteer with a park – you can help maintain the trails, give tours, teach wildlife safety or nature classes, etc. Many parks are non-profit organizations funded by donations and grants and rely on volunteers as unpaid staff members. Both state and national parks have volunteer programs, so lace up those hiking boots and make the call.

If You Like Gardening

Get your hands dirty while volunteering at a teaching farm or community garden. More and more farms and gardens are being planted in the food deserts across our country. They need volunteers who are passionate about organic gardening, the farm-to-table movement, and providing fresh produce to those without access to quality grocery stores or farmers’ markets. To find a community garden near you, go to communitygarden.org or communityofgardens.si.edu.

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There are so many ways you can use your time, talents, and knowledge. You should definitely enjoy your retirement - you have earned it! But consider giving others a helping hand now that you have the time.

 

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