Older Adult Volunteers

shipyard museum
Travel has played a large part in the first five years of my retirement. My desire for learning was fulfilled by my studies at the Sorbonne and I was very happy working amidst the books at the Oaxaca Lending Library.  Now, for the sake of my marriage, my puppy, and my finances, I need to spend more time at home.

For me, daily social interaction is essential. For 25 years, I worked in school libraries where hundreds
of students, teachers and parents visited daily. Before that, I worked in a small and friendly public library. As a stay-at-home mum, I enjoyed playgroups and shared activities with other young families.

Currently, I have volunteered to sort donated bakery products and to count money at the church. Unfortunately, these are mainly solitary endeavours that provide me with  little satisfaction.  I
am looking for skill-based volunteer opportunities. I have teaching, library and writing experience.
I am friendly, fluent in English and French, and computer-literate.I am able to learn new skills but I can be quite slow and awkward with manual tasks. I enjoy working with other people who are similar in interests and age. The problem seems to be that I am 64 years old and have been retired for almost 5 years.

Last week, I  completed online applications for volunteer positions in Vancouver and in Richmond, the suburb where I live. It seems to me that society has placed many obstacles in the paths of would-be volunteers. Various volunteer management software systems have required me to create
accounts with user names and passwords. I worked with computers in the library and supervised computer relief classes at school but for an older adult, the technology could be off-putting.

It seems to me that certain volunteer positions should be aimed at elders with a lifetime of skills and experience. Personally, I feel reluctant to apply for a position for which the minimum age is 14. There are programmes which feature multi-generational volunteer opportunities but as a former teacher, I really want to work with adults now.

Partial success! I have been accepted to lead a book club for older adults at a community centre and to be a guide at our local heritage shipyard museum. I am well-qualified for these two positions as I worked in libraries for 30 years and researched and wrote a children's book (still unpublished) about a local shipbuilding family.

Saturday, I attended an orientation at the shipyard. The average age of the volunteers was about 50 years younger than I am! Nevertheless, I took my criminal record forms into the RCMP detachment
office and was set to register for some volunteer shifts this morning. Guess what! I can't log in.


  1. This is so discouraging, but I know you'll keep pushing and get yourself logged in, and eventually, you'll show at least a couple of organisations the value of Volunteers With Considerable Experience. . . Please do write a follow-up post -- I'm very curious about the possibilities for contributing this way.

    1. I contacted the volunteer coordinator and got my password changed. Tomorrow, I am meeting the Book Group. Today, someone who lives in my complex asked if I would lead another book group. I will be starting at the museum on Friday. Once you have settled in your new home, you may enjoy volunteering. My friend, a retired music teacher, plays the piano at a seniors' centre and we have The Sharing Farm where volunteer gardeners work in the fields and the greenhouses to grow food for the Food Bank. I really believe that we can use our skills and experience in a way that is mutually beneficial.

  2. How discouraging! I coordinate volunteers full time and it is a point of pride that the process of application is as easy and friendly as it can possibly be.

    1. The process is a human one and no computer programme can provide the encouragement and warmth to welcome and to inspire a new volunteer.

  3. I just started volunteering this year with a literacy group and I'm teaching English as a second language. I meet with my student once a week at a local library for two hours. I'm also on the board of our local Friends of the Library.

  4. I'm waiting for our church-sponsored Syrian refugees. We will be running reception ESL classes.
    I really enjoy volunteering in the library in Oaxaca so Friends of the Library might be a good match.


Post a Comment