the power of volunteering
You’ve retired after a lifetime of hard work and now it’s time to put your feet up and enjoy a well-earned rest. Finally you’ve got the time to travel, develop your interest in hobbies and really enjoy life.
Sounds great in theory – but in practice many retirees find the shift to retirement a difficult transition, suddenly faced with the challenge of filling up days without the structure of full-time employment.
The answer for an increasing number of retirees is volunteering. It’s an excellent way of smoothing the transition into retirement and boosting your own physical and mental wellbeing. By volunteering you can tap into your local community and receive the support and encouragement that you used to derive from work, as well as contributing to those less fortunate.
More than one in three adult Australians, or 5.4 million people, are estimated to take part in volunteering.
what are the benefits of volunteer work?
The essence of volunteering is giving back to your community or helping people in developing countries improve their standard of living. In 2006, Australia’s army of volunteers provided 713 million hours of community work – that’s an average of 56 hours per volunteer.
So why do people volunteer? The most popular reason given during a recent survey was helping others or the community (57 per cent). Personal satisfaction (44 per cent) and doing something worthwhile (36 per cent) were also significant motivators.
The most common volunteering activities are fundraising, preparing and serving food, teaching or providing information and administration. Volunteering has a wider financial benefit to the Australian economy. The economic value of volunteer hours contributed to the not-for-profit sector alone has been estimated at $14.6 billion for 2006/07.
As well as helping others, volunteering can be a way of helping yourself. It’s been shown to result in lower rates of depression, improve physical health and even lower mortality rates.
Regardless of your range of interests and skills, there is always an opportunity to lend a hand in your community or even further afield.
- Volunteering Australia is a national service for the recruitment and deployment of volunteers – www.volunteeringaustralia.org.
- GreatConnections connects mature-age volunteers who have professional skills and business experience with not-for-profit organisations in need of help www.greatconnections.com.au.
- Australian Volunteers International enables Australians to volunteer and work overseas, in partnership with people of developing countries www.australianvolunteers.com.au.