Embracing Purpose:  Volunteering as a Senior

Retirement can be an incredible time where seniors find new beginnings, cultivate friendships, and embark on fulfilling journeys.  Beyond relaxation and leisure, many seniors use their retirement years to remain engaged and to contribute to their communities.  Volunteering is a powerful means for older adults to stay active, connect with others and leave a positive and lasting impact in society.  Today there are many ways to get involved regardless of availability, skill sets or areas of interest.

On Campus

The world is more connected and accessible than ever before, but that doesn’t mean you need to leave campus to share your skills with the world.  When people move to a retirement community, they are choosing to do away with many of the obligations of day-to-day life that filled up their free time.  As a result, many people are looking to learn new skills, pick up a hobby that they had earlier in life or just find new things to try and new groups of people to interact with. 

If you have skills to share, chances are there is a way for you to do that at a retirement community.  On campus at eliseo, residents can get involved at the Chihuly Family Art Center and share their talents with residents looking to pick up watercolors, ceramics, woodworking, beading and more.  Art isn’t your thing?  We have an organization called  Helping Hands that organizes estate sales with the proceeds going to purchase various items for eliseo, help other residents who have run out of resources and contribute to employee scholarship funds.  Many of our residents have incredible life journeys and experiences and want to share those experiences with others.  They oftentimes work with our Community Life Department to put together a lecture series or form an interest group to share their stories. 

Because eliseo is a Life Plan Community, there are all levels of care on campus.  While we have staff to attend to the medical, physical, and spiritual needs of our residents, many people opt to volunteer in our Health Center.  From making cards for special occasions to sitting with people who want company to accompanying residents on scenic bus trips and special outings, there are so many ways to assist people that currently require higher levels of care. 

We have two chaplains on campus to assist anyone who is interested, regardless of their denomination, with their spiritual journey.  If religion and spirituality are a key component of your life and you are interested in volunteering your time doing something that aligns with your beliefs, there are people who act as ushers before services, assist with readings and communion distribution and accompany hymns on the piano.  There are also various Bible and study groups where residents lead or contribute depending on their comfort level.  The only limitation on ways to get involved on campus is your imagination!

Off Campus

Tacoma is a good-sized city with a variety of different landscapes, geographical features and neighborhoods.  With that comes access to a variety of cultural, social and recreational volunteer opportunities that our residents can and do get involved with.  If someone is interested in nature and the environment, they should consider Communities for a Healthy Bay, Harbor WildWatch or Metro Parks Tacoma.  Want to help the less fortunate, then consider the Tacoma Rescue Mission, St. Vincent de Paul, Emergency Food Network or Habitat for Humanity.  Want to assist with our local medical providers – then reach out to Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital or any of the other MultiCare hospitals and medical centers in the area.  Looking for something a little more unique for your time and talents, then look no further than the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, local farmers markets or the Pierce County Library System.  Whatever you’re interested in, there is a way to get involved in Tacoma. Volunteering opportunities abound for seniors living in retirement communities.  Whether through sharing knowledge, offering care, advocating for causes, fostering intergenerational bonds, or reaping the health benefits of altruism, seniors can gain just as much as they give from volunteering.  By embracing a volunteering mindset, seniors can affirm their ongoing relevance and capacity to make meaningful contributions to their communities as well as the world at large.  The decision to move to a retirement