Cape Cod's Premier Senior Living Community
(Originally published on Capecod.com)
By Ann Luongo
According to the Corporation of National and Community Service, older adults are the most likely group of people to serve 100 or more hours per year as volunteers. With Cape Cod’s separated geographic nature and its unusually-high demographic of seniors aged 65 and older, this is the ideal place for generating a strong and supportive volunteer work force. The opportunities for volunteering here are limitless, and one of the best ways to learn about all the volunteer opportunities is by contacting Cape Cod Volunteers, an organization supported by the Cape & Islands United Way.
With a visit to the website, capecodvolunteers.org, seniors can discover a wide variety of ways in which they can utilize their experience from a past career, or perhaps pursue a new hobby or passion they now have the time to explore. Senior volunteers can help with a range of positions at different organizations from administrative work to walking horses to helping with local community events. And volunteer efforts do not always take place on site at organizations, as some tasks can be performed directly from home, allowing homebound seniors to continue participating in supporting their communities.
Frank Hynes, a resident of Thirwood Place and senior volunteer at The Family Pantry of Cape Cod, is motivated to do such great work not only by his wife, who has long been active as a local volunteer, but also by the gratification he receives from his work stocking shelves, sorting food and unloading trucks to help feed the whole Cape community. Frank’s time volunteering gives him a purpose and balance while allowing him plenty of time to continue pursuing his retirement interests of golfing and spending time with family.
In addition to the experience that each senior brings to the table, volunteerism helps prevent isolation and depression, giving seniors a true sense of purpose and accomplishment, allows them to connect with peers, and can improve overall mind and body health. According to the AARP, new research shows that senior volunteers are enjoying health benefits after just one year of service, including decreases in anxiety and depression, loneliness and social isolation. They also report enhanced physical capacity and higher life satisfaction.
Eddie Howard, a senior volunteer for Elder Services and Meals on Wheels, is inspired by the universal principle of “what goes around comes around.” He also added that it gets him out of the house, gives him something to do and that he knows he is doing valuable, important work by providing other seniors with food to eat and a visit as he makes his deliveries.
The National Institute on Aging reported that participating in meaningful and productive activities (like volunteering) decreases health problems including dementia and promotes longevity. Research shows that volunteering has been found to improve mental health and help prevent Alzheimer’s. It also gives people a feeling of family support. By dedicating time to an organization and bonding with like-minded volunteers and staff, seniors are surrounded by a unique family dynamic, created by supporting others in the community, caring for animals or participating in ongoing efforts with a shared purpose.
Just a few of the opportunities currently offered through Cape Cod Volunteers include community awareness advocates, family support staff, grant writers, cleanup volunteers, greeters for Mass Audubon, medical appointment drivers, shelter volunteers, volunteers to serve on boards of directors, scholarship committees, volunteers who will play with homeless children, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, citizen scientists, foster parents for kittens, and so many more.
Those who are compassionate about fighting hunger can volunteer at their local food pantry, a food bank, help deliver meals to those who are shut-in, or even advocate for hunger relief at the social or political level. Helping veterans, children, or those affected by natural disasters are also rewarding volunteer opportunities. Senior volunteers can make an enormous impact in any of these areas.
Regardless of the number of hours volunteered each week or where they choose to donate their time, one thing is quite clear – seniors make an enormous difference, and their maturity, availability, skills, loyalty and dedication are key to strengthening our community. You can learn more about the need for senior volunteers through this Cape Cod Senior Navigator video, presented by Thirwood Place.
Americans are living longer than ever and achieving even more and, as they enter their second act, older adults are choosing to take on new roles after decades of hard work. And through volunteering, seniors are able to find purpose, satisfaction, a flexible schedule, and good health later in life – all while they give back to the community by giving of themselves and their time. There is so much need across Cape Cod for those willing and able to give their time in the service of others. Now is the time. Your community needs you.