By the time we’re 55, we’ve accumulated more than half a century of life experience. Absent a way to use them, the knowledge, skills and wisdom we’ve gained could go underutilized.
That’s where Volunteer Arlington and the Retired Seniors Volunteer Program of Northern Virginia, known as RSVP, come in. The two organizations connect seniors with volunteer opportunities based on their skills, experiences and — maybe most of all — their passions.
“We partner with more than 240 organizations to match seniors with all kinds of volunteer opportunities,” said Lisa Fikes, Volunteer Arlington’s executive director. “Whether it’s reading books to children or delivering meals on wheels or serving on advisory commissions for County Government, the possibilities really are limitless.”
Fikes says seniors can volunteer for one-time opportunities or be part of longer-term commitments — whatever works for them. She described one recent volunteer with an interest in jewelry making who organized a one-time hands-on class for Arlingtonians experiencing homelessness.
“The individual called us, told us about her interest, and we connected her with A-SPAN, one of the non-profit agencies that work to prevent and end homelessness,” Fikes said. “The class was so successful they’ve continued to offer it!”
Fikes encourages anyone who’s interested in volunteering to first look through active opportunities posted on the Volunteer Arlington website. But, she says, don’t stop there.
“If you don’t see something you’re interested in, reach out to us and tell us about the passions and skills you care about,” Fikes said. “We’ll work to match you with the right opportunity, or find a way to create one. Anything is possible!”
Volunteering when we get older is a way to give back. The talents we’ve accumulated and our newly available free time can be used to benefit others. And doing so often yields individual benefits, including health benefits.
“The wisdom and experience of seniors can be leveraged to bring great benefit to County government and non-profit partners – all to the benefit of the people those groups serve,” Fikes said. “We also find that when seniors re-engage with the community through volunteering, it reduces thoughts and feelings of loneliness and isolation, and it provides a sense of purpose that can be really significant.”
Fikes reiterated the wide-open potential of reaching out to Volunteer Arlington and exploring options: “Let your imagination be your guide!”
About Volunteer Arlington
Volunteer Arlington connects individuals, groups, nonprofits and businesses in an effort to promote volunteerism. It is the connection hub that links volunteers both as individuals and groups to organizations in need of support. Working in partnership with nonprofits, private businesses and government entities, Volunteer Arlington inspires civic engagement that in turn strengthens our community.