Learning and Volunteer Ideas
Learning and volunteer ideas go hand in hand. Either makes a great
retirement activity too – even if you don’t retire.
Would you like to learn something new and volunteer at the same
time? Or just do one or the other? To keep our memories and mental
faculties in top shape, we need to keep learning. As centenarian Maurice
Eisman says, "If I could leave any message, never stop learning.
When we went to school as kids, it’s often because we had to.
Maybe we enjoyed it and maybe we didn’t. Now is the time for you to
learn something because you really want to, or pass along what you know.
What would it be?
If you or a loved one lives in a retirement community, assisted
living, or even a nursing home community, there still are many ways to
put all that good knowledge and experience to use! It just takes a little creative
thinking, and asking staff to help carry out your learning and volunteer
Sharing even in a small way helps keep the mind sharp, gives
something to look forward to, and provides a sense of purpose and
Learning & Volunteer Ideas
Even if you don’t retire or if you just work part time, there are
so many ways to help and to continue learning. Here are some volunteer
ideas, and also a few for ongoing learning.
- Jot down what you know about that you can share.
- Next, jot down what you’d like to learn more about – perhaps to enhance what you can share.
- Do you have a college or community college in your town? Call and
have them send you a brochure. Many classes can be audited and taken for
no grade or tests. Many can also be taken via the computer.
- Ask if they have special senior education programs.
- Also ask if they have volunteer ideas or programs to help students, if you are interested in education.
- Many colleges offer an “elder collegium” curriculum, specifically for seniors.
- Consider teaching (or performing) yourself, including at your senior
center, nursing homes, etc. Sharing your expertise is one of the most
rewarding things you can do.
- Speaking of performing, there are theater groups in most towns that need help with anything from props to costumes to acting.
- And, if you’re a real performer, a wonderful opportunity is to
become a performer or volunteer clown with an organization that visits
hospitals and nursing homes, as well as schools.
- If you are good with
sewing (costumes perhaps) or building and constructing things, you may
be able to help make the actual props and items for the theater -- from
where you live.
- Do you like politics? This is an area full of possible learning and
volunteer ideas. Retirement is a time to more fully participate, perhaps
work on political campaign or get involved with voters organizations.
Also see if there is anything you can do from home, if you prefer.
- You may even consider running for office yourself. Start locally – many of these positions are volunteer or semi-volunteer.
- Or become your organization’s expert in current legislation.
- You could also begin a forum or group around a specific issue in
your community. Others with many different backgrounds and experiences
will join, creating not only a great civic activity, but also a learning
opportunity for all. Who knows what volunteer ideas you may be creating
- Perhaps you’d like to volunteer with the League of Women’s Voters.
- Speaking of organizations, take a look at Rotary, Toastmasters, help
with the Jaycees (Junior Chamber), Feeding America, Best Buddies (who
work with developmentally disabled), Senior Corps (working within
communities in many capacities), Foster Grandparents. All of these
provide volunteer and civic opportunities. Plus a good platform to learn
something new. If you or your loved one lives on a campus, is it
possible to start a civic group on site? Or hold meetings there?
- If you are or were a business person, consider volunteer ideas at
SCORE (Service Corps Of Retired Executives) which is in conjunction with
the Small Business Administration. You can provide invaluable
assistance and learning to others in business.
- Participate in your local Chamber of Commerce.
- Some towns, counties and cities have similar small business
mentorship programs – consider joining a local organization. Pass on
what you know.
- If you’re physically active, how about joining in with Habitat For
Humanity and help build an affordable house. It’s almost guaranteed
you’ll learn some new skills too.
- If you’re interested in the environment, check if your community has a highway or park clean-up program.
- Your local senior center is most likely full of volunteer ideas. As
we age elderly issues can become overwhelming, sometimes necessitating
community help. But senior centers also offer many fun senior activity
ideas and chances to make new friends.
- An excellent way to combine learning and volunteer ideas is to help
those in need. Almost every community has a local food shelf and other
types of community resources. If you have experience in food, health,
social services, emergency assistance, communications, financial
services, law, they especially need you!
- A local long term care facility or nursing home may have an
activities director that could really use help with crafts, field trips,
and other activities for their residents.
- If you have a legal background, consider assisting with Legal Aid.
- Every state has an organization for vision and hearing impaired. And
many of the positions are volunteer work or close to it. They may also
need help with fund raising!
- Volunteer ideas are plentiful in the outdoors too. Many park and
recreational facilities, botanical gardens, and conservatories utilize
volunteers and also teach classes (to teach yourself, assist with, or
take). If you live in a community campus, offer to share what you know
with small or larger groups. Ask staff to assist with putting a slide
show together, or pass around books with pictures.
- If you have experience with gardening, look into starting a
community garden – either with flowers and plants, or a vegetable garden
in which others can work a plot of their own. Or just plant flowers in
an area of town that needs a little beautifying. Or, if you live in a
community setting, offer to do a little gardening for them. I know a
lady that daily takes a walk out to the outdoor patio with her walker.
Then weeds and maintains the elevated gardens there. Others take care of
the indoor planter and garden areas.
- For pet lovers, your local animal shelter may need help. Or an
animal hospital. Or perhaps you’d like to do a little volunteer dog
walking or pet sitting for someone. If you live on a campus, maybe the
activites director has or would like to have a program for bringing
animals to the residents -- and you could help.
- Does your local library have a Friends of the Library group? Many
such groups not only fund raise and work in the library itself, but also
bring books to those who are homebound. They may also include a program
to reading to those recipients, or are in connection with another
volunteer group who does read to others.
- Jot down a list of books you’ve always wanted to read (maybe you
already have one – in fact, you’ve been making it for years and it’s now
three feet long). What is your plan – library, bookstore, or possibly
books on tape. Are any of these books that you would like to share with
- Join a book or movie club. None around? Start one with a few
friends. Such clubs can provide a large range of fulfilling elderly
activities. And develop into years of camaraderie and enjoyment.
As you know, it's important to exercise the brain as well
as the body.
I have seen many seniors, especially in community living,
ease into their own world and even become selfish and complaining. They
may lose perspective. But there ways people of all ages can learn and
help, even if donating to a charitable garage sale, craft fair or
holiday effort. Perhaps knitting, sewing, help with baking, crafting or
making items for them.
Seniors of almost any age can give hope and companionship to
others, including in a facility in which they may live, or to kids.
Volunteer ideas abound. These
simple efforts can bring a turn-around in attitude and provide positive
goals in life.
Pages with more retirement ideas:
Finding A Hobby
-- Finding a hobby that is just right for you will give
you a lifetime of enjoyment. Here’s the top list of hobby ideas, alone or in a group.
Senior Citizen Travel
-- More detailed information on planning your trip, things to be aware of, and what questions to ask your travel agent.
Senior Activity Ideas
-- Lots of very cool senior activity ideas, some great to do
alone, or some in groups.
to Retirement Ideas