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Sunday, August 17, 2008

Seniors as Volunteers

Maggie Jackson notes (Balancing Acts: Age Discrimination, Business Section, Boston Globe, July 27, 2008: G1, G4) that seniors have three motives for seeking work: to make money, to stay active, and "giving back."

Those of us who do not need to continue working for financial reasons can easily find worthwhile occupations as volunteers.

Many places need voluntary labor. You can find information on volunteer opportunities at or Many kinds of volunteer placements are available: there are placements that fit the extroverted (tutoring) and others that fit the introverted (stuffing envelopes).

I do recording for the blind a couple of mornings a week. I started to do this because one of my good friends had a period of temporary blindness when his retinas had detached. After six months, laser surgery had put him partially to rights and he could see well enough with one eye. But during his months of blindness, he had to rely on talking books and recorded journals to keep up with our academic field. I thought that a good way to honor him would be to do some of that recording -- a classic case of "giving back."

Of course, in this election year, political campaigns -- from President to town council -- are looking for volunteers to go out into the community and pass on the candidate's message. But there are non-partisan political opportunities too: many good government organizations need volunteers to plan fund-raisers, send out mailings, and generally keep the office running on a shoe-string. My choice was Common Cause where I volunteer a couple of times a week.

So, if you don't need paid employment, do not despair: there is no age discrimination in the volunteer sector.

Sent to Boston Globe

1 comment:

Steve Noble said...

Thanks for your valuable work as a volunteer for RFB&D (Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic), and mentioning them in your article. It is a wonderful organization. I also volunteer with RFB&D as a member of the Board of Directors at the Kentucky Unit. I might also mention to all your readers that if they live near an RFB&D recording studio, some may want to consider also volunteering in the process to produce even more books. Although many of our volunteers are retired, we also have lots of volunteers who put in recording time during an evening after work during the week or on a Saturday morning. There’s always room for more! Here’s a place to find out about an RFB&D Unit near you:

Steve Noble
RFB&D Kentucky Unit Board of Directors
Learning Disabilities Association of America National Board
Immediate Past President, Learning Disabilities Association of Kentucky