Retirement, after spending several decades in the workforce, is an exciting time in many seniors’ lives. You are finally financially free to pursue what interests you, to spend time with your family, to lead an enriching life that isn’t dictated by the demands of working by necessity. Retired persons often want to use this newfound freedom to do something for a wider community. Although as a former federal employee, you may have heard about federal volunteer programs like the Peace Corps, did you know that the government runs several community outreach programs that are designed specifically for the retired? Here are a few of the most prominent.
- Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP)
Part of the larger program Senior Corps, RSVP is a volunteer network with over 500, 000 volunteers serving. It is the largest program with volunteers over 55 in the country. When you sign up with RSVP, you can indicate to them the type of volunteer work you want to do, and then RSPV will get you connected with a local organization to meet your specific volunteer desires. In this respect, RSVP is the most flexible of federal volunteer programs for retired persons.
- Senior Companion Program (SCP)
Another component of the Senior Corps is the Senior Companion Program, which enables volunteers to help elderly individuals who would otherwise not be able to live on their own. Aside from performing small non-medical care tasks, you’ll also be spending time with your companion, participating in recreational activities. It’s a great way to aid an elderly person enjoy the independence everyone desires. Many SCP volunteers qualify for a stipend and other benefits.
- Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE)
SCORE is an especially attractive option for those who have lots of leadership and work experience, and would like to bring this experience to the table to help fledgling businesses and communities. Funded in part by the U.S. Small Business Administration, SCORE enables volunteers to lead workshops on different aspects of successfully-developed small businesses. SCORE volunteers serve as mentors for local businessmen and women who do not have the means to seek the advice of business consultants. Volunteering for SCORE is a great way to become a leader and ensure the health of your local community.
- Peace Corps
Although the Peace Corps traditionally recruits recent college graduates, this worldwide organization that helps developing countries in various ways has in the past few years pointedly recruited seniors. According to a Boston.com article, the Peace Corps “started a marketing strategy to try to capitalize on the trend of baby boomers looking for a nontraditional retirement. It is the first time the corps has targeted older volunteers as a group and on a national scale.” Although Peace Corps is more involved and demanding than other volunteer options, requiring a two-year full time commitment in a different country, it is also the most adventurous.
- Foster Grandparent Program (FGP)
The Foster Grandparent Program (FGP) is the third component of the umbrella organization Senior Corps. Despite the name, FGP volunteers do not house foster children. Instead, they meet children with special needs at childcare facilities, whether it is at a daycare center, a school, or a church. FGP volunteers participate in several activities including one-on-one tutoring, mentoring, and simply being a companion for at-risk youth. Like SCP volunteers, you may qualify for a tax-free stipend.
As you can see, there are various ways that you can volunteer well into retirement. Of course, there are numerous options, many of which you can find on VolunteerMatch.org, but the federally-run programs listed here are without doubt the most long and well established opportunities.