By Ann Burnside Love

Ann-LoveYou’re a relatively new resident at your retirement community, or you will be moving in soon, or you’ve been there for some time but haven’t yet found volunteer opportunities that really appeal to you.

You see others around you with meetings to go to that they find satisfying. There’s obviously a hospitality committee welcoming newcomers, engineering monthly birthday celebrations and supporting holiday parties. Other groups put on monthly meetings with lunch and outside speakers. A dozen standing committees oversee various aspects of community living, like the residents association, and informal groups and committees interested in wellness and exercise, safety, outdoor environment, travel, book clubs, card playing, choir, entertainment, and ever so much more.

Many people have urged you to “get involved,” and for some it’s automatic and simple. They plunge right in, meet people and put their skills to good use. If you’re one of these, congratulations! Have at it!

However, if that’s not you, you may prefer instead to chat with the director of volunteers, to find suggestions where you may be most comfortable and have the most to contribute. Many have made successful choices that way.

I know, I know, I’m not a sterling example of what I’m advocating here. I was recovering from a recent, very serious injury when I was to move in, and came in the back door, so to speak, from the hospital via the nursing center for several weeks of recovery and rehab before moving into my beautiful apartment — which my four children had organized into complete readiness. I was also mentally and physically exhausted from decades of over-committed volunteer service — at the same time we were growing our senior marketing company from a regional business into a national one.

But finally I got my life and writing obligations sufficiently organized that I took a leap and said yes to becoming chair of the Food Committee. What a hotbed that turned out to be! But with control and change of expectations, that soon became a pleasure instead of the chaos I’d inherited. We even have a list of “things we don’t have to talk about anymore!”

Now, to be honest, you know you have valuable skills to contribute. And this is your year to build a new lifestyle for yourself. Resolve to make a difference for yourself as well as others, then look around to see what possibilities might interest you.  By our age, you surely know what interests you and what doesn’t. Go for a good fit.

You’ll see improvement in the quality of your own life as you share yourself with others. Chances are you’ll feel pleased with the results. Carry on!

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