Volunteer Opportunities

About 45 million Americans volunteer each year, and elders make up about one-third of those volunteers. Elders contribute many valuable services, from work that relates to their prior work experiences or hobbies to jobs that offer a chance to try something new, or simply to help someone in need.

Volunteer Opportunities for Elders

The following organizations provide a variety of volunteer opportunities for elders. Additional resources can be found on the Web site of the Administration on Aging. You may also find volunteer opportunities at your Area Agency on Aging (AAA), senior center, or faith-based organization.

  • The Experience Corps invites people over 55 to volunteer in public schools and youth-focused organizations. The volunteers work one-on-one with young children, create before- and after-school programs, get parents more fully involved in schools, and serve as advocates for children and their needs.
  • Points of Light Foundation and Hands On Network have partnered to form an organization that helps connect people and resources for creative solutions to community problems, including a network for older adults called the "50+ Volunteering Initiative."
  • Senior Corps, 800-424-8867 toll free or 202-606-5000 (select Senior Corps), runs three programs that rely on elder volunteers. For two of the programs—Foster Grandparents and Senior Companions—the elder must be age 60 or older and be able to serve between 15 and 40 hours a week. In return, elders receive training, transportation, some meals, a free physical, and insurance protection while on assignment. Income-eligible volunteers also receive a modest weekly stipend.
  • Senior Medicare Patrols (SMP) programs teach retired professionals, such as doctors, nurses, accountants, investigators, law enforcement personnel, attorneys, and teachers, to help Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries become better health care consumers. It focuses on issues such as identifying billing errors and preventing potential Medicare fraud.
  • Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) 800-634-0245 toll free, is an association made up of retired executives and small-business owners. Sponsored by the Small Business Administration (SBA), it coordinates volunteer counselors to assist first-time entrepreneurs and small-business owners in the areas of planning and management.

Additional Volunteer Resources

The following organizations are not specifically geared towards elders, but they also provide opportunities for volunteering.

  • The Peace Corps, 800-424-8580 toll free, provides 27 months of training and service for elders interested in volunteering in another country in business development, education, youth and community development, agriculture and the environment, and health. The Peace Corps prepares volunteers with extensive language, technical, and cross-cultural awareness training, and covers the cost of transportation and medical care during the volunteer period.
  • Volunteers in Parks (VIP) provides those with an interest in history and the outdoors volunteer opportunities with the National Park Service, the federal agency entrusted with preserving more than 360 national parks in the United States.

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