Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Staying active.

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.

Do not:

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.


cloudia charters said...

Excellent and practical advice!
Thank you

Warm Aloha from Honolulu
Comfort Spiral

> < } } (°>

Hilary said...

Wonderful advice. I've done a lot of volunteering and hope to do more not too far down the road.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Rosaria .. it's finding that balance isn't it - doing the things we love, while helping others ..

You've done so much .. cheers Hilary

Joani said...

Thanks for the advice Rosaria. I'm learning how to balance these things one day at a time. Have a great day.

the walking man said...

I volunteer to get paid for all that work. No seriously I do volunteer things mostly with literacy but man the gasoline bills alone can be killer.

My favorite volunteering of all though is volunteering my wife for activities. There are days when she hates me. ha ha ha

NitWit1 said...

I so agree. If I wrote a similar post I could just "ditto" yours. I am done to two activities, church and my TeleCare group which two friends and I organized and now are having difficulty creating volunteers to carry on our journey in calling those who live alone.

Church activities do create closer friendships in those which have small group worship besides congregate worship. I has been a salvataion in our old age and a source of comfort and many new and more enduring friendships.

We have spend much time, money planning in renovating our 30+ property so as to enhance value as much as possible, knowing one day will come for someone to sell it.

Great post.

rosaria williams said...

NitWit1, we are taking a good look at our house and grounds too, realizing that we have begun to slow down and let things slide. Without good maintenance people to help out, we'd be in real trouble.

Sightings said...

I didn't know you could volunteer for a wine club. Sign me up! But seriously, good advice, esp. the part about sharing what you love, and I'm trying to take it all to heart.

The Odd Essay said...

Great Post! We've met volunteers of all kinds in our 11 years on the road... (which started with a volunteer position in Alaska)... and while we now volunteer mainly for the National Wildlife system, your advice works for that too. I can only add that for us, we get back far more than we can give... it's not in dollars, but in knowledge, experience and most of all... in friendships.

Eva Gallant said...

some great advice there!

Brian Miller said...

that third one on the dont list is does not help anyone..even though at times it feels like we are doing a favor...

ellen abbott said...

excellent advice. staying active is necessary to staying healthy.

Rachel Cotterill said...

I think this is great advice at any age! :)

dianefaith said...

Simply reading about all you did when you first retired makes me weary! I'm finding that the groups I've joined don't have nearly enough volunteers. All the work falls on a few, and none of us are young. So far, I'm OK with that, but it could become a problem -- for several of us at the same time.

rosaria williams said...

Yes, Diane, this is a problem too, and it tends to wear out those few people who volunteer for everything.

musicwithinyou said...

Try to volunteer for things that only expect your time once a week and maybe only a few hours. volunteering for foundations is great because you are helping to raise money for a good cause, I find those the most rewarding.

#1Nana said...

Good advice. I've found that my interests have changed with time and I've discontinued the volunteer efforts that no longer were a passion for me.

Vera said...

Sometimes it is difficult to pace one's self, but I do think that to survive the 'getting older age mentality' one has to have projects, whatever they may be, because they are targets which keep moving one forward. Without them then one can feel old and useless, making life hardly worth living.

cheshire wife said...

Before I stopped working I was advised by an elderly friend to take my time and think about what I wanted to do with myself rather than jumping out of the frying pan into the fire. It was very good advice.

yaya said...

Such good advice. I think some of those could be started before retirement. It will be interesting to see how long we can stay at our present home...6 acres to take care of and we burn wood for heat....alot of work that I'm already having some issues with! And I'm about 7 0r 8 years from retirement if I'm lucky.

LindyLouMac in Italy said...

Life has definitely become more of an adventure in retirement for us, but as you very sensibly say it is so very important to get the balance right.

Linda Myers said...

The hardest part of being retired is cultivating new friendships. I find new people when I volunteer or try something new. Plus, keeping my mind active (besides on the computer and in books) is really important.

Right now I'm in training to become a certified mediator. I'm looking forward to volunteering at our local dispute resolution center. And anywhere else people are in conflict and are willing to try for a win-win solution.

I'm aware, though, of my body's complaints and requests. It's much more important than it used to be to honor them.