Monday, December 16, 2013

Volunteering in Retirement

Many retirees look forward to a time when their time will permit more volunteer work.  If you’re looking at volunteering in retirement, let me tell you that it can be a most rewarding use of your time.  My last post featured one of my favorite projects of an organization I volunteer for, Soroptimist International.  Whether you've been a volunteer all your life or whether this is your first look at volunteering now that you’re retired, here are a few tips that I've learned along the way.

Find Your Passion
I've been passionate about issues involving women and girls for most of my adult life.  I’m passionate about issues such as education – particularly in science and technology, domestic violence prevention, and human trafficking.   Soroptimist, with a mission of improving the lives of women and girls in local communities and throughout the world, is the right match for me.  I've been a member of Soroptimist International for about 15 years now, so yes, I volunteered with them before I retired. 

I also chose the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program after I retired because helping people with their taxes and providing financial education is my husband’s passion.  It’s been great working alongside him as he shares his gift, and I’m finding that I help a lot of single moms through this program.

What’s your passion?  Animals?  Children?  Literacy?  Fitness?  Chances are good that there’s an organization waiting for you.  And if not, what’s stopping you from starting your own?

Set Limits
Determine within your own mind how much time you want to spend volunteering – and stick to it.  Once people learn of your desire to volunteer, you may be asked to do more than you are prepared for.  It’s OK to say “no” to activities that you’re really not passionate about, or that you just don’t want to do.

Honor Your Schedule
Determine not only how much time you want to spend volunteering, but when you want to spend that time.  Don’t allow your organization to infringe on time you’d rather spend elsewhere.  And believe me, they will try.  “You’re retired – can you do xxx?  None of us can get off work.”  If you really want to do xxx, by all means go for it, but don’t let them guilt you into doing something you don’t want to do because you’re the one that doesn't go to a paying job.

Honor Your Commitments
If you’re doing something you’re passionate about, this one is easy.  But I’ll say it anyway – if you commit to a project, participate.  If you commit to an event, be there.  If you commit to getting something done, do it.  If you can’t do something you committed to, let them know as soon as possible so they can replace you.  Volunteer organizations depend on their volunteers to accomplish their objectives; the volunteers that follow through are the ones that reap the benefits of volunteering.

Enjoy giving back!  You’ll find you gain far more than you give.

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