Jun 30, 2008 05:00PM
● By Super Admin
OK, I need to provide full disclosure here. Most, if not all of the "seniors" I know, in particular my parents and in-laws, have more energy and a more vibrant social life than those of us of a younger generation. They travel around the world, attend countless social events, and can traipse off to Hawaii at the drop of a hat.
Let's face it, today's 70 is the new 40. Those "experienced in life" are taking better care of themselves and living longer, more fulfilling lives. I'd like to think it's partly because there are so many wonderful opportunities for involvement and enrichment in their lives.
The El Dorado Hills Senior Center (916-358-3575) provides a wealth of phenomenal classes and activities, with something for everyone at every fitness level. Yoga, book clubs, dancing, movie nights and more, provide connections and entertainment for anyone seeking to stay active.
However, for some seniors we talked to, they weren't simply looking to be entertained. Rather, they sought opportunities for community involvement and a chance to make a difference. And in the midst of their busy lives, they wanted what little "down time" they had to really count.
As we explored the staggering need for volunteers and mentors right here in our community, we pulled out just some of the openings available to those with life experience, compassion and hopefully a little spare time.
Become a Mentor to Small Businesses
Seniors with a business background can serve as professional mentors for organizations like SCORE - Counselors to America's Small Business (sacscore.org, 916-635-9085), which utilizes retired executives to assist small businesses and start-ups. As Jeff Hendy, chapter president for Greater Sacramento, says, "We are always looking for new volunteer counselors – it is a good opportunity to give back to the existing and emerging businesses in our community."
Support Our Troops
There are amazing local support groups throughout our area that invite and coordinate an outpouring of support to our men and women in the armed services. Volunteers are continually needed to help stuff care packages, coordinate fundraisers and donations, and keep the effort strong. Toys for the Troops Kids is one such local organization (toysforthetroopskids.org).
Make Blankets for Children
Project Linus (projectlinus.org, 916-965-8955) provides new, handmade blankets to seriously ill and traumatized children in our community. If you love to quilt, crochet or sew, they can use your talents.
Help Care for Animals
Our county-run and non-profit shelters are desperate for help caring for, and giving a voice to, animals. Local animal rescue operations would love to get your call offering administrative or in-field assistance. The Grace Foundation of El Dorado Hills (thegracefoundationofnorcal.org) and Folsom Feline Rescue (folsomfelines.org, 916-484-4099) are two organizations that could use your help.
Become a Foster Grandparent
Through the vital Senior Corps Program, seniors can make a difference in the life of a child by mentoring troubled kids, caring for premature newborns and helping abused children. Visit seniorcorps.gov for more information.
Participate in Focus Groups
Get paid for your life-formed opinions and input. Focus group research is vital in today's market-based economy, and it pays an average of $75-$150 for an hour-long focus group. To find a focus group near you, visit Senior Corps online at seniorcorps.gov, or Opinions of Sacramento Focus Groups at opinionsofsac.com
Volunteer on a Political Campaign
A unique opportunity this summer is the chance to volunteer on a political campaign, or for a party-affiliated organization. There are several races at the local, state and federal levels, and the campaigns or parties themselves welcome volunteers in all capacities. Find out how you can get involved by calling your local party representatives: El Dorado County Republican Party, edcgop.com, 530-676-4757; El Dorado County Democratic Party, edcdemocrats.org, 530-626-8270.
Serve as a Museum Docent
Put your love and appreciation for history or art to good use by serving as a volunteer tour guide at any of our regional museums.The Folsom History Museum is always looking for volunteers. Visit folsomhistorymuseum.org, or call 916-985-2707 to find out how you can help.
Volunteer at Thrift Stores
These non-profits directly support causes like hospice and the cancer society, and are always in need of volunteers as well as donations. As Nancy Symons, of the new Partners in Care Thrift Store in Placerville, says, "We love volunteers and can always use more!" The Snowline Hospice Thrift Store (snowlinehospice.org, 916-984-5853) and the Mercy Hospital of Folsom Auxiliary (916-984-7371) are always in need of volunteers and donations.
For the senior who can't stand to sit still, volunteering just might be the solution. And where better to volunteer than in your own community?