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Volunteering in a Time of Social Distancing

Updated: Aug 20, 2021

Volunteering in a time of social distancing

Three years ago I began a grand plan: I will assist retirees in finding a volunteer opportunity that can help them become engaged. I undertook to produce interviews that were at once inspirational and also informative. Geared for the nearly and newly retired, I made these 15–20 minute interviews available through a podcast and as blog posts on a website.

It’s hard to believe that three years have passed so quickly. Hard also to believe that I did 100 of those interviews. I’d like to take a moment and reflect on what I’ve learned and offer a challenge.

I started the adventure by being curious: What do retirees volunteer to do? And I found very quickly that the range of options was nearly limitless. I talked to people who volunteered around the world and people who volunteered from their own living room. I heard from folks who followed their love for music or other talents and hobbies and from individuals who pitched in where a helping hand was sorely needed.

I found people who supported others whether the recipients were senior citizens, people with special needs, the marginalized who daily navigate hunger and poverty, or those who have served our country and now need our service. Folks who volunteer also teach, garden, answer questions, bus tables, counsel, stock shelves, care for animals and birds, play music, provide transportation, coach, and much more.

I talked with volunteers who latched on to a cause and established entirely new organizations. They

  • Helped feed hungry school children between Friday afternoon and Monday morning

  • Supplied food so that a lean budget wouldn’t mean losing a loving pet

  • Built a community of professionals to provide dental care to those who would otherwise go without that essential service

  • Provide scholarships to high school graduates who demonstrate both great need and also great determination to overcome barriers

  • And more

Establishing an organization meant that those volunteers could multiply the effect of their individual dream.

And I visited with others who worked with longstanding organizations or communities like Special Olympics, Senior Olympics, foster parents organizations, museums, and more.