Volunteer Opportunities for 55 Plus Communities in Ocean County, NJ
Volunteering is a beautiful way to be involved in community. Through volunteering, you not only offer something to others, but you get back a strong sense of connection, self-empowerment and wellbeing.
Many elders who are retired find they have more time on their hands. Volunteering is a great way to stay active and involved. In fact, studies indicate that elders who volunteer live longer and live healthier!
In this article we’ll cover types of volunteering options, the personal benefits of volunteering and specific opportunities for 55 plus communities in Ocean County, NJ to engage.
And don’t worry — we’ll also offer resources for virtual volunteering opportunities. We may be social distancing, but there are ample opportunities to get involved and help, even from home.
Types of Volunteer Activities
There is a huge range of volunteer opportunities. Whether you want to give back to the environment, support a local movement, or serve the under-served communities, there is something for everyone.
- Fundraising: Most nonprofits need to raise funds to maintain operations. Everything from working a bake sale at your religious institution to grant writing and emailing donors is a way to fundraise. Or perhaps you have some administrative skills you can offer to the local Girl/Boy Scout chapter.
- Environmental: The environment is in need of stewardship. Help clean up the wild lands or educate the community about the dangers of pollution, climate change and excessive trash. For 55 plus communities in Ocean County, NJ, the Barnegat Bay Partnership has opportunities to protect and restore the watershed.
- Elderly: Spend time with other elders who are isolated or in nursing homes and need some companionship.
- Disabled: Whether delivering their shopping or playing a game, you can brighten up the lives of disabled and needy individuals.
- Youth: From telling stories to children to acting as a mentor — officially or not — helping young people can be incredibly invigorating. The youth need their elders, just as our seniors need the youth. It is a wonderful symbiotic relationship. There are also tutoring opportunities.
- Homeless & Poverty Stricken: From working soup kitchens to helping to distribute food, there are lots of ways to help the homeless and poor.
- Animals: Share your love with animals. Volunteer to take dogs from the local shelter on walks, or cuddle a kitten. You could even adopt a needy pet. Barnegat 67 is animal friendly and even provides a dog run on the roof!
- Research: Participate in important research studies. Collecting information from your local environment for a wildlife study, or help gather data for a charity.
- General Labor: Help build a home or get utilities to a family in need.
- Make Things: Make a pie for the bake sale. Knit mittens for cold hands in the winter time. Or — especially relevant now — sew facemasks!
As you can see, there are plenty of options for volunteer work. You can be on the front line, interacting directly with the needy, or operating from behind the scenes, offering time, administrative tasks, or hand-made goods.
But besides helping out others (which is pretty awesome!) how do you personally profit from volunteer work?
Volunteering Benefits for the Volunteer
The wonderful thing about volunteering is that it is really a mutually constructive activity. While you’ll naturally be helping your community in some way, volunteering is also super beneficial for the individual doing the volunteering. You get what you give, as the saying goes.
A few of the benefits include:
- Social Benefits
Volunteering is usually a social activity. It involves working with other volunteers and interacting with the broader community. For example, if you’re volunteering at events, museums or religious institutions, you’ll have ample interaction with attendees.
You could also be volunteering somewhere that is innately interactive and social. For example, you could tutor young children, play games with residents at a nursing home, or spend time with the homeless.
Whatever volunteer work you’re doing, you’re participating in the community in a way that fosters social connection.
Even virtual volunteering can offer a sense of community and belonging. It’s true that these are uncertain times, and volunteering in person may not be a healthy choice right now. However, there are still ways to stay involved from home. We’ll get into virtual volunteer opportunities below.
- Mental & Emotional Benefits
Getting out and participating in something bigger than oneself has tremendous advantages to the mental health of an individual. As mentioned above, volunteering breeds a deep sense of connection. It creates a feeling of self-worth and belonging in the volunteer.
Feelings of isolation are common among elders. Retirement from daily work and adult children who are far from home can create a sense of disconnection from the larger group. That’s why finding ways to be a part of the community is so nourishing.
People living in 55 plus communities in Ocean County, NJ can find a deep sense of joy from volunteer work. In fact, studies indicate that those who volunteer have lower rates of depression and feelings of isolation. At the same time, a sense of companionship and self-regard are amplified.
Furthermore, volunteering allows you to exercise your mind. For one thing, conversation and communication alone keeps the mind engaged and your brain stimulated.
And for another thing, volunteering is a fantastic opportunity to learn something new. For example, if you volunteer at your local zoo or art museum, you can learn all about animals or art, depending on your interest. That’s not just really fun, but a great work-out for your mind.
- Physical Benefits
Getting out to volunteer will naturally engage you physically. Some activities are more geared toward activity. For example, if you volunteer to clean up a park, help build homes for the needy, or help create a community garden, you will be very active.
But even organizing a bake sale for your place of worship or campaigning for local representatives can involve quite a bit of bustling about!
Staying active is super important for the health of elders as it helps support cardiovascular strength, bone density and overall wellbeing. Why not volunteer and get your body moving?
You might be wondering how you can possibly do any physically active volunteer work during times of social distancing. Well, some groups are organizing social distanced clean-ups, for example. If you feel comfortable, you can don a facemask and gloves and maintain six feet of distance while you help pick up trash from creeks, roadsides and public lands.
Organizations & Resources to Find Volunteer Opportunities
Here are a few of the nationwide organizations that provide great opportunities to get help out your community. Contact your local chapter to find out how you can get involved.
- Senior Corps: This government organization is specifically aimed at training seniors 55 and over to be mentors and community leaders. You could be a foster grandparent. Perfect for 55 plus communities in Ocean County, NJ to become leaders in Barnegat!
- American Association of Retired Peoples (AARP): A great resource especially aimed at placing elders in volunteer positions across the country. They offer a huge variety — just enter your preferences, be it art or poverty. Want to teach kids to read so they have more opportunities in life? Great. How about being a senior companion? AARP has a special program that pairs older adults with other older adults in need of assistance.
- Volunteer Match: This is another great resource for finding both local and virtual volunteer opportunities. More on them below.
- Boy’s and Girl’s Club of America: Be a positive influence and a mentor to the youth!This organization is dedicated to promoting children’s education and supporting positive development. You could tutor kids, help with homework, or do some coaching. They are always looking for more volunteers to reach more children in need.
- Habitat for Humanity: This organization believes everyone deserves to have a home. Volunteer to build a house and learn some new construction skills!
Virtual Volunteer Opportunities
If you feel moved to help the greater community, don’t let Covid-19 stop you!
There are literally hundreds of thousands of virtual volunteer positions that need to be filled right now, from sewing facemasks to mentoring homeless youth online. Just because we’re stuck at home doesn’t mean we can’t help!
Volunteer Match, a group that helps match individuals to volunteer opportunities both locally and virtually, currently has nearly 300,000 volunteer positions available.
Volunteering for 55 Plus Communities in Ocean County, NJ
Volunteering is a fantastic way to support the larger community — be it at a local, national or global scale. And it will foster a deep sense of connection and wellbeing within you too!
If you’re social distancing at Barnegat 67, consider virtual volunteering to stay engaged.