If you’re thinking out of the box about your retirement plan, and you have a zeal for making a difference in the world or in your backyard, this article is for you.
For many people, retirement is a day they’ve dreamed of – the freedom to do what they want without the chains of their 9-5 career. Retirement can also be a time to explore ways to change the world for the better. For those who were too busy to volunteer or help their community pre-retirement, the new life that retirement offers can be a great opportunity to change the world for the better.
Volunteer Work in Semi or Full Retirement Mode
Countless companies, nonprofit organizations, and advocacy groups rely on volunteers to keep doing the work they do. Some examples of places in your local area that might appreciate your time and energy include:
- Animal rescues. Many private animal rescues survive on donations and the time and energy provided by their volunteers. If you enjoy working with animals, offering a few hours per week can change many lives and provide your local animal rescue with much-needed support.
- Schools. Many schools look for volunteers to act as chaperones, lunch servers, and even sports coaches for their students. Check local schools to see if you have skills that could help them. Sometimes, just reading to kids before a library tour is a much-needed role to fill.
- Nonprofit organizations. You can find countless advocacy groups and nonprofit organizations in need of volunteers. Some help families with legal services, some arrange international adoptions, and some assist with specialized medical care. Look for local nonprofit organizations and see if they need volunteers.
- Shelters and soup kitchens. If you have any homeless shelters, domestic violence refuges, or soup kitchens in your area, lending even a few hours of your time and energy each week can be incredibly helpful.
Be Powered by Your Purpose and Passion
As with anything, let your purpose and passion for work, volunteering and life drive you to the change you’d like to see. Organizations are always looking for new volunteers, so try and find one near you that resonates with your values and skills.
One of my personal favorites are the men and women who run Gold Canyon Heart and Home in Phoenix. The founders of this charity created a peer-to-peer mentoring program in Arizona prisons over twenty years ago. Today they have mentored and helped thousands of ex-offenders prepare for successful reentry into the community. About a third of their mentees start small businesses that become very successful.
The key for being happier when you volunteer is doing work you’re passionate about. Follow your heart!
Social Programs to Help Communities
Many local communities offer parks programs, youth enrichment programs, exercise groups, and various types of community support programs. Is there a cause near and dear to your heart, or do you see some type of social issue pervasive in your community you want to address?
Social programs exist to address community issues, spread awareness about specific problems, and help friends and neighbors enjoy their lives to the fullest. You can find countless social programs deserving of your time if you look hard enough.
Check your township’s local events calendar and the classified advertisements in your local newspapers to find social programs who could use your help.
Advocacy in Retirement
Do you hold strong political beliefs? If you feel strongly about your political convictions, your retirement could be the perfect time to join a local political action group, assist with local elections, or drive awareness about the issues that matter most to you.
If you plan to participate in any political events or demonstrations, make sure you keep the recent volatility in mind and stay safe. Avoid confrontational protests and try to find constructive, helpful ways to spread your political beliefs. You can also explore social media to find others with similar views and open up more doors for positive, constructive political advocacy in your area.
“Adopt a Grandparent” Programs
Many places have adopted “Adopt-a-Grandparent” programs that partner older individuals with younger folks, typically high school students and college students, to spend time with one another and learn from each other. Some of these programs are geared to offer companionship and friendship to older adults who may be struggling with loneliness.
Many, however, look for older kids who need the love and guidance of a grandparent-figure but don’t have one in their lives. It’s a great way to be a role model. Your participation in one of these programs could also change a young person’s life for the better.
Improving Your Local Community
Does your local community have a community garden, or do your neighbors have things they want to see changed in the neighborhood? You can use your spare time during retirement to push for your local Public Works department to fix potholes, install sidewalks, or improve your neighborhood in other ways.
You can also look for community volunteer programs like community park cleaning days, gardening programs, food share programs, Meals on Wheels, and various other causes to improve the lives of others in your area.
Retirement or semi-retirement may be the end of your official career, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be a new beginning, too. Your retirement could offer amazing potential for creative outlets and satisfy your desire to help others at the same time, and in ways that might surprise you.
Start thinking of the kinds of social change you would like to see in the world and look for local groups, organizations, and programs that could use your time, energy, and talents.
Do you have a constructive comment or question about your retirement planning? Feel free to post a comment or contact us.