The last few years have been interesting for you. The kids have finally flown the nest (maybe after returning for awhile when it became impossible for them to live on their own for one reason or another); you may be without a significant other for the first time in a long time, maybe ever. You've downsized from the larger home, and the garden has morphed into patio flower pots. Knitting in a rocking chair doesn't appeal to you and you have no desire to spend the rest of your life whittling wooden objects. Your grandchildren are busy with their activities and you're feeling a bit useless. Watching the time pass on the gold watch the company gave you when you retired isn't filling the hours. The time is past when it was okay to wear a polka dot bikini or a thong to the beach -- maybe Europe overlooks flesh that has a mind of its own, but in most places in the United States, it doesn't work!
So now what? It's hard to admit how much time you're spending on the Internet playing solitaire. Well, how about sharing some of that knowledge you've learned over the years? Non-profits need your skills. You can donate your time and expertise to a number of different organizations, whatever your interest is -- everything from pets to HIV to cancer to community gardens. You name it. They want you, and admit it; it's kind of nice to have someone want your input!
It doesn't matter where you live; there are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of groups that need your abilities. Hey, we've learned a lot over the years! Let's not discount it. We're a valuable commodity. We've learned how to get money and how to spend it. We've learned what works and what doesn't. We've spent a lifetime developing TLC skills. We're masters at helping people. Our families may be a little tired of the wisdom we spout, but non-profit groups would love to have some of that wisdom.
I've sat on a lot of Executive Boards of different non-profit organizations and the majority of the people who sit on the boards are boomers. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out why. Younger people are dealing with children, jobs and all of the other things that just getting from day to day entails. They have no time to donate, no matter how worthy the cause. There are only so many hours in a day and a person can be stretched just so far! Fortunately for the non-profits, we boomers have a few extra hours.
If children are your interest, check out the Boys and Girls Clubs. I recently took my granddaughter to a "ba yeah" class (read that ballet!) at one of their locations. The class was reasonable and excellent. They usually provide child care services, sports activities and classes. Fundraisers help support them. You can usually donate your time by simply helping with activities if you don't want to act in an advisory capacity or help with fundraising. And that's true for most of the non-profits. Wherever and however you want to help, your services will be appreciated.
There are so many organizations that are community minded such as Rotary Club, Lions Club, Exchange, etc. Two that come to mind in my area are Kiwanis Club and Soroptomists. If your interest lies in the community, check out the Rotary or Kiwanis Clubs. If your focus is on women and girls, you might want to get involved with Soroptomists. "Working Wardrobes," one of their projects, helps women return to the work force by furnishing them with appropriate clothing.
I find it interesting that all of the organizations I know of are now made up of women as well as men. I remember many years ago when the International Rotary Conference was held in Tokyo, a vote was taken on whether or not women should be allowed to join. Fortunately, it passed. In today's world that seems ludicrous. Male or female, there are no longer sex barriers.
Those are just a few groups. My daughter-in-law donates time to the Humane Society. She had to become certified so that she could take some of the more active dogs on runs. The Humane Society also has volunteers who take food to a pet whose owner is housebound or ill. See what I mean? You can donate as many hours as you want to whatever organization appeals to you. The only choices you have to make are which ones interest you and how much time you want to donate. Keep in mind that each group has a different feel to it. If you're not comfortable with the first group you check out, find another one. You're in the driver's seat and you're the one who's donating your time. Make it time you enjoy!
I don't have the space to give a shout out to all of the wonderful non-profit organizations that exist, from soup kitchens to hospitals to picking up trash on sidewalks. Whatever you're interested in, trust me, you'll be welcomed with open arms.
Sites like the <a href="http://www.agingnetworkvolunteercollaborative.org/" target="_hplink">Aging Network's Volunteer Collaborative</a> and <a href="http://www.idealist.org/" target="_hplink">Idealist</a> can be a great starting point for gathering ideas.
Especially at this time of year, canvassing, organizing, and inspiring others to get involved can be a great way to get fired up about local and national issues.
<a href="http://www.seniorcorps.gov" target="_hplink">Senior Corp</a>, a program of the United States government founded during the Kennedy administration, "connects today's 55+ with the people and organizations that need them most," encompassing a Foster Grandparent program, a Senior Companion program, and a wide <a href="http://www.seniorcorps.gov/about/programs/rsvp.asp" target="_hplink">volunteer network</a>.
Programs such as <a href="http://www.volunteersinmedicine.org/" target="_hplink">Volunteers In Medicine</a> and <a href="http://www.score.org/" target="_hplink">Score.org</a> (a mentorship program for small businesses) allow retirees from the for-profit sector to use the professional skills and knowledge they have acquired to give back.
Environmental preservation is something post50s from all walks of life and across political lines can get behind--and the "grey and green" movement has some <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/karl-a-pillemer-phd/gray-and-green-_b_1319800.html" target="_hplink">unique benefits for the older generation</a>, such as improved physical health from getting outdoors, and greater payoff in terms of mental well-being than other types of volunteer work.
Of course "your place" can easily be found in your own backyard (see the previous five slides)--but if you've got an itch to see more of the world, there are plenty of <a href="http://www.crossculturalsolutions.org/volunteering-abroad/who/50-plus.aspx" target="_hplink">international volunteer opportunities targeted for post50s</a>.
...or through the <a href="http://www.redcross.org/portal/site/en/menuitem.d8aaecf214c576bf971e4cfe43181aa0/?vgnextoid=7bf51a53f1c37110VgnVCM1000003481a10aRCRD&vgnextfmt=default" target="_hplink">Red Cross</a>, mentor or tutor kids in your community... The possibilities are endless!