Change Lives, Including Your Own
By Pamela B.Smith, Director County's Aging and Independence
Chuck Boles, a former Marine and employee of the U.S.
State Department, retired in 1990. He put away his
weapons and now spends four days a week reading stories,
putting puzzles together and wiping runny noses.
Boles has been volunteering with the Little Angels Learning Center in Escondido since his wife kicked him out of the house, telling him to go do something useful. He landed where he feels most useful.
"The first few days, the children viewed me with some suspicion…not only was I an unknown adult, but a male one at that," says Boles, who has no grandchildren of his own. "Over time, they came to accept me and the results have been truly rewarding. Give me a smile, or a leg hug, and I'm good for another week. They are so innocent, so trusting, and often enough, need a hug of their own."Even though the drive from his Rancho Penasquitos home can be challenging at times," he says, "I wouldn't miss this for the world. Once I get there, the rest is golden."
Boles and the Little Angels Learning Center participate in a program called First 5, where older adults help prepare children age 5 and younger for school. First 5 is one of the growing number of meaningful volunteer opportunities for seniors.
Today's retirees are ready and willing to tackle more involving and socially significant volunteer activities than were commonly available in the past. Don't make them stuff envelopes. They want to use their interests, skills and intelligence when they give their valuable time to an organization. Some retirees want to pursue volunteer work that is similar to what they did for their careers, only without the same 40 hour-plus work schedule. Others, as with Boles, want activities that are very different from what they have ever done before.
Volunteer options are diverse. They range from being an advocate for abused and neglected children to being a peer counselor. There are opportunities to help wildlife, distribute food to the needy, teach people how to avoid being a victim of fraud, be a docent for your favorite museum. The list is only as short as your imagination. Just about every government and nonprofit entity survives because of the dedication of its volunteers.
The County's Retired & Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) is a great resource for identifying a retiree's volunteer desires and where to get those wishes met. Call (858) 505-6399.
RSVP provides the following reasons for volunteering: