Human beings are better off when they have a purpose. Feeling like you have accomplished something worthwhile and contributed to the welfare of others are just a few of the many benefits of volunteering.

Henry David Thoreau must have been referring to that feeling when he said, “Not only must we be good, but we must also be good for something.”

If you look, you will find many volunteer opportunities that are either good for you or will be helpful to others – or both.

Benefits of Volunteering

Studies have shown that older adults who volunteer derive greater satisfaction from their lives than those who don’t. They experience fewer incidences of depression, have a longer life expectancy, and report a decrease in chronic pain. And older volunteers report feeling healthier than prior to beginning their volunteer work.

The personal satisfaction and health benefits are accompanied by social benefits. You may volunteer in an organization of your peers who believe in the same causes that you do. You are once again part of a team with the same goals.

Volunteering provides a unique combination of stimulating activity, increased self-esteem, and the satisfaction of helping others. And you will never run out of opportunities to be of service.

Volunteer Opportunities

Begin your search for volunteer opportunities by asking yourself what organizations or causes mean the most to you.

Do you like working with children? Do you have the skills and experience to help people plan their finances? Would you like to volunteer with Veterans?

Look online for opportunities. Volunteer Match offers a wide variety of volunteer services, from writing grants and creating website content to baking goodies for deployed service members.

Find an organization that speaks to you, and get ready to reap the many benefits of volunteering. Check out these amazing organizations.

AmeriCorps

AmeriCorps is a government agency that helps older adults put their experience to good use as foster grandparents, mentors and tutors to children.

Meals on Wheels

This program has a network of thousands of independently run local programs, delivering meals to homebound seniors. Bethesda Health Group has an active program at its Bethesda Dilworth location.

Habitat for Humanity 

Are you handy with tools? This nonprofit organization builds and renovates homes for families who need them. If you are not handy with tools, volunteers can staff offices, act as “go-fers” around a construction site, or lend a hand at home improvement stores and donation centers.

Feeding America 

This is the largest domestic hunger-relief organization in the country, with 200 food banks nationwide. Volunteers can help sort food, answer telephone calls, and assist with administrative work.

Locally, there are many ways and places to serve, such as:

  • Senior care centers
  • Religious organizations
  • Food banks
  • Homeless shelters
  • Hospitals
  • Charities
  • Foundations
  • Civic organizations
  • Animal shelters
  • Community gardens

Through the benefits of volunteering you can make new connections with people, perhaps learn a skill, gain friends, remain active and independent longer, and realize you are still good for many things.

Giving back has no age limit. For more senior activity suggestions, visit Bethesda’s Health & Wellness blog.