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Retirement has exceeded my expectations. I didn't expect that our lives would be so busy. We would be so engaged with so many different things.
We're involved in the Academy of Lifelong Learning, where we're giving courses. I've done History of Science, the Universe, Hubble Telescope, Italian Renaissance Art, and Treasures of the Louvre.
I'm also involved in the Academy, I'm the president this year. It's a group of a thousand retired people who are volunteers and teach classes and attend classes.
We're doing things sort of outside of the box, outside of what we did in our careers. Like, teaching an art class, teaching a science class. Going to Italy on our own. We're just having a blast.
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Some ideas for volunteering
- Working with children: You can help children in a variety of ways, from volunteering at a children’s hospital to tutoring or reading at a local school. You can also join a larger volunteer organization such as the Make-A-Wish Foundation or StandUp for Kids .
- Helping seniors: There are also seniors in need that could use your help. Meals on Wheels is an organization aimed to prevent hunger among the elderly population and is a popular choice among retirees. You can also become a part of the AARP Foundation and contribute help to seniors in one of four priority areas: hunger, income, housing and isolation.
- Disaster relief: If you have a medical background, you can leverage your experiences helping victims of natural disasters through the Red Cross or the Citizen Corps .
- Animal shelters: Local shelters often need help caring for animals or rescuing pets in times of emergency. You may also enjoy becoming a “foster parent” and temporarily looking after animals in your home until they can be adopted. Look into volunteering opportunities at the Animal Humane Society or PAWS .1
- Other ideas: What are your skills and interests? You could offer free art lessons to students, help out at your alma mater’s admissions or alumni offices, or offer pro bono consulting services to companies in your former field.
Volunteering opportunities with perks
- Film and music festivals: Volunteering at film or music festivals often come with free passes. You may even get backstage privileges or free swag and souvenirs. For available opportunities, visit FestivalTrek or Music Festival Junkies .
- Theater, concerts, museums and conventions: Becoming an usher at a local theater or music hall or a docent at a favorite museum can lead to free or discounted tickets. And volunteering a few hours a day at an academic conference of interest will likely score you tickets to events as well as allow you to network with other people in your field or area of interest.
- Volunteer vacations and abroad opportunities: Traveling while volunteering can allow you to see the world while also helping others. For more information, check out two popular trip providers, Road Scholars and Global Volunteers .3
- Living with the Peace Corps: Retirement and the Peace Corps may seem an unlikely connection, but many seniors do volunteer with this organization. In fact, 7% of volunteers are 50 or older. Although the typical time commitment is 27 months, the Peace Corps recently created shorter programs with three- to 12-month trips. During a deployment, travel, living and health expenses are covered.4
- Presidential awards: For as little as 100 volunteer hours a year, you can earn a President’s Volunteer Service Award . At the very least, you’ll receive a certificate and a signed letter from the President acknowledging your service.