When someone says free, people
listen. So, think about exchanging workplace skills in a multigenerational,
multicultural community for free room and board! My only income is
Social Security, but I have traveled to Alaska, Florida, Arkansas and New
Mexico, stayed for months enjoying the culture, events, and camaraderie of
those who know the territory.
How? In retirement, I have
become a long-term, long-distance volunteer. Yes, I have a work schedule but,
in communication with a Volunteer Coordinator, I chose my hours and
responsibilities. Some organizations actually supplement their staff with
volunteers in education, library, maintenance, and gardening, to name a few.
Volunteering while retired is a balance of finances and compassion. Granted, no
income, but our expenses can be minimal, since food and housing are payment for
your work skills.
In the past six years I have
kayaked Crystal Bay, Sitka, AK; hiked and canoed the Buffalo River in Arkansas,
sloshed through the Everglades in Florida, and eaten blue-corn pancakes at Sky
City near Albuquerque. Also, while acting as Administrative Assistant to the
Head of Menaul School, Albuquerque, NM, I interacted with students from the
pueblos, observing their Native American culture first-hand. Springtime in
Arkansas brought baby lambs and goats. Have you ever bottle-fed a baby goat?
Volunteering while retired
offers options, suggesting the reality of travel, free housing, and sharing
of skills within a community of likewise talented, and energetic coworkers. You
can live your retirement dreams while actively contributing to the greater
good. It is also an option for college grads -- or those completing a college
career -- since they can work for an organization, accumulating skills to add
to a resume while contacting prospective employers. And they’re not living at
home with Mom & Dad!
Benefits abound. On weekends
and evenings, there are lectures to attend and mountain switch-backs to
investigate. I keep my skills current while performing my duties of
receptionist, administrative assistant, or “weeder of the butterfly garden”.
Got my exercise on-the-job doing that! And, because I have Silver Sneakers
within my health care plan, I can pop into a gym in the area for free.
There’s that word again! Due to healthier practices and longevity, we mature
adults have lots of hours to fill with creative adventures.Those I have met through this
word-of-mouth volunteer network are diverse, energetic, capable and passionate.
They live their life and dreams to the fullest, despite financial or physical
limitations. On my travels, so many asked “How can I do what you do?” that I
wrote a book: Second Career Volunteer, a passionate, pennywise approach
With the recent recession plus thousands of energetic
Boomers on the horizon, options are needed to fill those “mystery” years
stretching into our future. My volunteer lifestyle is unique and free -
By Barbara M. Traynor
Editor's Note: Barbara's email is email@example.com
For more information, visit www.secondcareervolunteer.com
Her book: Second Career Volunteer, a passionate,
pennywise approach to retirement is available at Amazon.com or through Google