5 Ways to Volunteer and Make a Difference

One of the best ways to find a purpose and create meaning in our encore lives is to make a difference in someone else’s life. It helps redirect our focus away from ourselves, and can provide a wonderful sense of fulfillment. If you’re looking for a volunteer opportunity as a part of your encore career, here are 5 really great organizations to explore:

1. ExperienceCorp.org: Experience Corps is an award-winning national program that engages people over 55 in meeting their communities’ greatest challenges. Two thousand members of Experience Corps tutor and mentor in 23 cities across the country, providing literacy coaching, homework help, consistent role models and committed, caring attention.

Independent research has shown that Experience Corps boosts student academic performance, helps schools and youth-serving organizations become more successful, and enhances the well-being of older adults in the process. It’s a win-win-win for everyone!

2. SeniorCorps.gov: Senior Corps currently links more than 500,000 Americans to service opportunities by becoming mentors, coaches or companions to people in need or contributing their job skills and expertise to community projects and organizations.

Don’t let the “senior” word put you off, because Senior Corps does an excellent job of connecting people 55+ with the people and organizations that need them most, and offers different ways to get involved. Check out:

3. SeniorCorps.org’s RSVP Program: RSVP is NOT your father’s “Retired Senior Volunteer Program.” This new and improved version connects volunteers with service opportunities in their communities that match their skills, talents, interests and availability.

From building houses to immunizing children, from enhancing the capacity of non-profit organizations to improving and protecting the environment, RSVP volunteers put their unique talents to work to make a difference.

4. SeniorCorps.org’s Foster Grandparents Program: Foster Grandparents program connects volunteers age 60 and over with children and young people with exceptional needs. Volunteers mentor, support, and help some of the most vulnerable children in the United States.

Aggie Bennett and Louise Casey served as Foster Grandparents on the pediatric ward of Maine Medical Center for over a decade, and you can read about their extraordinary experience in Marc Freedman’s Prime Time: How Boomers Will Revolutionize Retirement & Transform America.

5. VolunteerMatch.org: Volunteer Match is a terrific site for finding the perfect volunteer opportunity in your community — both ongoing and project based. Not to worry if you live in a more rural area like me. I found three Web pages filled with great volunteer openings!

If you know of an inspirational site not listed here, please let me know.

Meanwhile, may your journey discovering your ideal encore career be joyful, and may you find the perfect fit that ignites your passion, and provides purpose and pizzazz in your life!

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