Volunteer Opportunities for Seniors in Erie County
Sue Nemoto has volunteered at the SPCA Serving Erie County three times a week for more than five years.
Photo by Bethany Kloc, SPCA Serving Erie County
After a lifetime of working, seniors can sometimes find it difficult to find ways use the free time they have when faced with retirement. Volunteering a great way to spend some of that free time and become active in your community. Here in WNY, there are many opportunities to volunteer on a one-time or short-time basis, as well as more long-term opportunities.
The website for Erie County features a whole section dedicated to seniors, including useful information on volunteering opportunities for people over the age of fifty-five. The Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) serves to help retired seniors find volunteering positions. There are many benefits listed to becoming a volunteer that include the opportunity to try new things and meet new people, the satisfaction of knowing you are needed and appreciated, and the ability to help others by sharing your experience, abilities, and skills. RSVP partners with more than ninety sites to help place volunteers suitable for a wide variety of needs and wants. Some of these include the Buffalo City Mission, the Salvation Army, Buffalo Public Schools, and many other opportunities. This program does involve enrollment and requires all new volunteers to attend an orientation. One-time opportunities are available as well, but this program may be better suited for those seeking a longer or steadier volunteer commitment. To find out more about the RSVP program, click on the “Volunteering and Employment” link of the “Seniors” section of the Erie County website at www2.erie.gov under “Our Services” or call 858-7548.
For those who have a busier schedule, there are many opportunities to make a more flexible volunteer commitment. Meals on Wheels is an excellent example. The organization is always looking for drivers, servers, or people to prepare meals. On the Meals on Wheels website, there is a great message for those who want to volunteer, “Volunteering with Meals on Wheels is deeply satisfying and easy to fit into even the busiest schedule. It takes only an hour of your day to deliver meals and a smile to the homebound, and you can volunteer as frequently as you wish.” Meals on Wheels does ask that you fill out an application, but it has very flexible hours. To get more information on becoming a Meals on Wheels volunteer, visit the website for the WNY area at mealsonwheelswny.org and access the “Volunteer” section or call 822-2002.
Other volunteering opportunities in the Buffalo area appeal to a wide variety of interests. Some of these include the Buffalo Zoo, The SPCA serving Erie County, Buffalo and Erie County Public Libraries, and the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens. There is also a program sponsored by Catholic Charities of Buffalo called the Foster Grandparent Program. This program provides benefits not only for the children but also for the senior volunteers. According to the website, “By mentoring, tutoring, and offering caring support to exceptional and special needs children, volunteers develop one-on-one relationships with the youngsters.” Grandparent volunteers can help give back to kids who really need someone to look out for them and offer them companionship, as well as some learning and educational opportunities. This position also offers a small stipend when volunteers help for between fifteen and forty hours per week. To find out more about this program, visit the Catholic Charities of Buffalo website at ccwny.org and search under the “Volunteer” section or call 896-6388. Catholic Charities of Buffalo also offers many other volunteering opportunities.
Volunteering can be invaluable to both those volunteering and those who benefit from it. Being able to share a lifetime of experience and knowledge can help someone in many ways, and being able to care and show compassion for someone can bring them more than just a smile. If you are a retired senior, or even someone still working but looking for a way to spend some of your free time, give volunteering a try.
Patrick Sullivan is a senior at Medaille College and a Buffalo Spree Publishing intern.