Senior Volunteer Opportunities in Niagara County
A group of HANCI volunteers at the 2017 Niagara County Senior Walk in the Park
Photo courtesy of HANCI
Maybe you’ve become an empty nester, decided to retire, or simply find you have some extra time on your hands. No need to fret about how to fill your days. There are plenty of volunteer opportunities available and many organizations that would love to have you.
You might want to start by taking an inventory of your skills, abilities, and interests to determine what best suits you. This could even be the time to step outside your comfort zone and try doing something totally different.
Niagara County residents may want to start with going to the United Way of Greater Niagara website (uwgn.org) and click on “Volunteer.” The agency believes volunteers are the “back bone of the United Way,” and they are looking for individuals to serve at special events, agency relations, and campaign production. Day of Caring and Make a Difference Day would not happen without the help of volunteers.
If you click on “Programs,” you will find a number of organizations that need your help. Let’s explore.
You just might have what it takes to become a Literacy Volunteer Tutor. Training is provided for you to help individuals improve their reading skills and help serve recently relocated refugees and immigrants who may not speak or read English. (876-8991 or literacybuffalo.org)
Meals on Wheels
Lockport Meals on Wheels depends on volunteers to help deliver meals to clients. This essential service ensures senior citizens and other vulnerable people do not go hungry. (433-6811 or lockportmealsonwheels.com)
The Health Association of Niagara County, Inc. (HANCI) serves thousands of people in the community. You can volunteer with seniors in a day program or serve on the planning committee for the HANCI Senior Prom. (285-8224 or hanci.com)
The YMCA says volunteers are the lifeblood of the organization. If you are sports-minded, finance or office-oriented, or prefer fundraising and helping with events, they have a spot for you.
If you are looking for some action, The Niagara County Medical Reserve Corps need volunteers who can be activated during an emergency such as pandemic flu or a large-scale environmental exposure to disease event. Volunteers administer vaccines, fill out forms, and give directions, among other duties. (439-7431 or niagaracounty.com/health/Services/Public-Health-Preparedness/Volunteer)
The Dale Association was founded in response to a concern for older adults living alone and in need of social and recreational opportunities. This organization needs volunteers who can assist with bingo, call seniors who need someone to touch base with them, work on the Association’s weekly cable show, sew, and make candy. These are only a few examples. Truly this organization has something for everyone. (433-1886 or daleassociation.com)
Is there an organization that you have always wanted to work with but never had the time? Animal lovers may want to consider the Niagara SPCA. A couple hours a week would make a huge difference to an animal in need. Want to be a Tailwagger? These are the folks who work with dogs. This includes dog walkers and kennel assistants. Or you could become a Purr Pal. These individuals interact with cats and help them thrive. Community outreach volunteers are also needed to represent the SPCA at community events. (731-4368 or niagaraspca.org)
If you like working with children, the Foster Grandparent Program in North Tonawanda gives older adults (55+) a chance to work with youngsters in need. Foster Grandparents can be mentors, tutors, caregivers, or role models to children. They are also present in classrooms, childcare centers, medical centers, and Head Start programs. (218-1400 or ccwny.org/services/foster-grandparent-program)
Hospitals are always in need of volunteers. Eastern Niagara Hospital in Lockport (514-5700 or enhs.org), Mount St. Mary’s Hospital and Health Center in Lewiston (297-4800 or chsbuffalo.org), and Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center in Niagara Falls (278-4000 or nfmmc.org) all offer opportunities. These can range from interacting with patients to serving in the mailroom, cafeteria, gift shop, library, or with hospital transportation. Creative types may want to make artwork or crafts for patients or share musical skills.
For more ideas, go to volunteermatch.org. Organizations like the Girl Scouts, National MS Society, Hearts and Hands, AmeriCorps and Compeer Niagara are all in need of volunteers.
National sites outlining volunteer opportunities include volunteer.gov, where you can find opportunities by state. Or check out createthegood.org, courtesy of AARP. Type in keywords, your zip code, and the distance you are willing to travel. You may even get some ideas for opportunities you hadn’t considered.
Use your skills and experience to make an impact in your community. Volunteer today! You’ll be glad you did.
Judith A. Rucki is a public relations consultant and freelance writer. Readers may contact her via the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org with ideas for making the golden years sparkle, sizzle, and shine.