When we first retired, we jumped right in, volunteering for all kinds of things. Our first foray was in coaching and sponsoring the local youth baseball team. Hubby saw an ad in the local paper for a coach, and the next day he was signing people up, ordering uniforms, knocking at doors to get sponsors, preparing the field, driving kids and parents to games and practices, and cleaning up after every game.
By the end of the season, exhausted and broke, the coaching job had felt like a full time job, three days a week with direct activities, twice a week with all the follow-up activities, driving three hours to pick up uniforms or trophies, subsidizing families with basic equipment for their children,
I volunteered to teach a parenting class that included organizing babysitting and hot food as well. Since the material was not familiar to me, I spent hours previewing videos and organizing activities to keep the young fathers and mothers engaged and motivated. By the end of the term, I had worked harder than on any other course I had ever taught before.
Hubby and I ended up accompanying the other to most activities. When he chaired the local food pantry board, we drove over two hours to pick up food, spent hours on the phone to suppliers, write grants to obtain upgrades for the building. Our SUV was always full of boxes and supplies for some group we were volunteering for.
Ten years later, we have slimmed down our commitments mostly because of health reasons. Yes, you will get tired more often in your old age, and driving for a couple of hours in bad weather is not something you want to do when your arthritis is flaring up.
Here are our do's and don'ts for volunteering:
1. Seek opportunities so you can share what you love.
2. Be upfront. Commit for the time you really want to spend, or until you know the activity is a good match.
3. Start your own group/activity. You know what passions you have. If no volunteering opportunities exist in your area, start one.
4. Get to know your neighbors, local churches, service clubs.
5. Take classes. Most states offer free tuition to people sixty-five and older.
1. Expect any rewards, like instant friendships. Friends are natural extensions, but not guaranteed.
2. Turn down invitations because you have never done that activity, Tell the organizer that you are new, and you need someone to show you how.
3. Continue with an activity if you do not have the strength or the desire for it. Everyone will suffer from lack of enthusiasm, especially you.
4. Skip an activity because you think you can't afford. Just because you are on a fixed income it doesn't mean you can't afford the wine club!
5.Lay blame and walk away. If something isn't working, make it better.