There is no way to fully measure the impact a single volunteer can have on their community. One thing is for certain — without volunteers, many civic offerings could not afford to remain open. Today, many are finding roles as volunteers in retirement, and they are greatly appreciated.
One such place that relies heavily on volunteers is community senior centers. Jami Method, director at Golden Oaks Senior Center in Oakland, said that they rely heavily on volunteers.
“The public needs to be aware that the senior centers are able to remain open because of the volunteers,” Method said. “The limited funding from the government does not allow extra funds for paid employees. Volunteers are the ones who are able to assist the center in providing the needs for the senior population in the community that will assist them in staying independent.”
Many of the volunteers at Golden Oaks are among those recently retired and they help with cooking, washing dishes, recycling cards, conducting maintenance, giving presentations and fundraising for the center.
“I also think staying active in volunteering keeps them active and they do not decline as quickly as those that do nothing after retirement. It gives them a sense of purpose,” Method said.
Golden Oaks has about 20 volunteers who actively help throughout any given month. Method said 95 percent of them are retired.
Another such facility that benefits greatly are nursing homes.
David Deemer, director at Oakland Heights Nursing Home and Assisted Living in Oakland, said there are 60-70 volunteers serving the residents throughout each month. He estimated that as many as 75 percent of those are retired.
Deemer said Oakland Heights is a city-owned facility and is able to provide quality care to its residents because of the tremendous number of volunteers.
“Our volunteers help provide an enriched living environment and without their help many of the activities wouldn’t be possible,” Deemer said. Volunteers help with an array of activities including bingo, crafts, meals (coffee/snack hour), church services and musical performances, and the list goes on.”
According to Deemer, sometimes a simple willingness to visit with the residents can mean so much.
“Our volunteers’ willingness to share their time, talents and friendship is deeply appreciated,” Deemer said.
Many are finding a renewed sense of purpose and responsibility in retirement. There are countless opportunities in even the smallest of communities to volunteer. To volunteer in the community, start by calling a church, school, senior center, nursing home, animal shelter, community garden club or hospital.