For 78 million baby boomers keenly interested in a more active and healthy retirement, lifelong learning through meaningful volunteer community service can be an essential part of their everyday life. “Lifelong learning, combined with such service, engages all your senses,” says Nancy Merz Nordstrom, author of “Learning Later, Living Greater: The Secret for Making the Most of Your After-50 Years.” “It produces a feeling so exhilarating you will find yourself wanting to keep it a permanent fixture in your “After 50” years,” she goes on to say. Her book helps baby boomers redefine their retirement experience using lifelong learning, educational travel, and meaningful community service. “Learning Later, Living Greater” has been hailed as a “must-read” by the Midwest Book Review and retirement experts alike for its mass consumer appeal and volume of information.
Nancy Merz Nordstrom wrote:
“Mentors, mediators, monitors, motivators and mobilizers,”…that’s what the late Maggie Kuhn (of Gray Panthers fame) envisioned as the role of those who no longer hold full-time paying jobs. It’s a tall order. But thanks to millions of older adults already offering their time and expertise, and the estimated 78 million who will be leaving the full-time workforce over the coming years, that tall order can be filled. Using the knowledge, skills and wisdom developed over a lifetime of full-time work and personal experience, they are well positioned to take on the roles Kuhn envisioned with meaningful volunteer community service.
Older adults can use these talents to find ways to meld old and new interests into civic activities that will give them a renewed sense of purpose and usefulness. At the same time, they will be engaging in lifelong learning because all their senses are involved in helping to enhance society and make it a better place for all generations. And in so doing, their later years will be greatly enriched far beyond anything they might have thought possible.
Meaningful volunteer community service, however, is different for each person. It’s all about engaging in whatever endeavor makes one feel complete and useful. It’s all about whatever activity enriches and stimulates a life. With that in mind, here are twelve easy ways to keep learning through community service.
- Learn how to teach reading to adults. Then become a volunteer tutor in your community.
- Become a surrogate grandparent to students in after-school or day-care programs.
- Raise money for local non-profits.
- Sit on boards of local organizations.
- Work in soup kitchens & food pantries. Deliver Meals on Wheels or take part in food drives.
- Offer your services to local museums, churches, libraries or civic venues.
- Read for the blind & dyslexic.
- Volunteer to take part in neighborhood safety watches.
- Join a fraternal organization or community club.
- Help out in neighborhood parks, youth organizations, & with sports teams.
- Volunteer at a shelter for battered women & children, or answer “Help” lines.
- Take part in Drug Awareness programs.
As one lifelong learner says, “I am 85 years old and I’m still learning. As a volunteer I work with the disadvantaged from all ages and races and walks of life. It has opened my eyes and my mind, making me more aware of the problems of others.”
At Southgate at Shrewsbury, there is a sense of well-being and contentment in the air. We are dedicated to the happiness, security, and peace of mind of our residents, and it’s only natural to want to spread those feelings throughout our extended community. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”