Growing older doesn’t mean spending your remaining days in your home watching television. The world is full of incredible organisations that would love it if you signed up as a volunteer. Not only will they benefit from your service, but you’ll find the quality of your life improves when you start volunteering.
The great thing about volunteering is that it provides you with a reason to not only get out of your house and interact with other people, but you’ll also enjoy a strong sense of satisfaction that comes with knowing you’re doing something that benefits your community.
Research Showcases the Benefits of Volunteering
A recent research study showcased the importance of Giving Back- The surprising reward from volunteering.
Fengyan Tang, a researcher at the University of Pittsburgh, recently dedicated a portion of their time to studying the exact impact volunteering had on the lives of seniors. 253 over 50 volunteers participated in the study. Though they had different backgrounds, each shared a love of volunteering and spent approximately 6 hours each week aiding non-profit and/or government programs.
The study looked at every single aspect of each participant’s volunteering experience, including:
- Whether the organisation allowed the volunteer to choose the tasks they handled
- If the organisation provided the necessary training
- If ongoing support was provided to the volunteers
- The volunteer’s perceived benefits acquired from their volunteering experience
- The personal benefits the volunteer gained from their experience
When the study concluded, participants reported that as a result of their volunteering efforts they:
- Noticed improved self-esteem
- They felt they experienced personal growth
- Enjoyed the social aspects of the experience
As they interviewed the participants, Fengyan Tang noted that each showed a marked improvement in both their mental health and socio emotional health. It was also noted that the volunteers that received the most benefit from the time they devoted to volunteering were the ones that worked with an organisation that provided sufficient training, support, and volunteer flexibility.
Choosing an organisation to Volunteer For
The great thing about volunteering is being able to choose the type of work you do. At this point in your life, you already know what your skills are. You can choose to volunteer at an organisation that puts your skills to good use, such as a retired lawyer volunteering at a legal aid shelter, or you can do something completely new and challenging, such as volunteering to walk dogs at the local pet shelter.
The key is to look for an organisation that you enjoy being connected to. In addition to making sure that they’re flexible with their scheduling and well run, make sure they provide sufficient training, are happy to have you on board, and provide a service you’re proud to be a part of.
The good news is that you’re not locked into a specific volunteering experience. If you become involved in an organisation and find it’s not a good fit for you, you’re free to explore other opportunities.
Getting the Most out of the Volunteering Experience
When you first start your volunteering experience, it’s important to keep an open mind and be willing to learn some new things, even if you’ve selected an option that closely mirrors the type of work you did prior to retiring. It’s important to remember that things might be slightly different from what you’re used to. Be willing to try new things
When you start volunteering, be honest about your background when questioned about your skills and experience. The organisation isn’t trying to be nosey, the simply want to get an idea of how to best use your services as well as the type of training you require.
It won’t take long before you find yourself loving the volunteer experience and wishing you’d started sooner.