Whether you’re 25 or 65, volunteering for your community — or any cause close to your heart — is a worthwhile endeavor. Two advantages retired people have are the time and experience to make their efforts more meaningful.
Opportunities to volunteer are boundless. After all, who can’t use a free hand? Or some sage advice? Or just someone kind to lean on?
Following are some resources and opportunities to make volunteering for your chosen cause or community a fulfilling experience for everyone.
SAGE, the LGBTQ+ elder advocacy group, has several nationwide and local volunteer opportunities, including a program they call Action Squad, “a community of bold individuals who are energized and ready for change.” Members are notified of breaking news and called to action to advocate or protest when events warrant. That could include sending a letter to your representatives or calling to share why legislation matters to you; joining a training to learn how to leverage the power of your personal story for positive impact; attending an event or webinar to become more informed, or hitting the streets to make your voices heard.
Do you have an educational background or enjoy public speaking? SAGE’s National Resource Center on LGBTQ+ Aging offers a Volunteer Education Ambassador Program, providing volunteers with educational resources designed for outreach and strengthening awareness of aging in local communities. Each ambassador is responsible for securing their own speaking engagements directed at community/social groups, chambers of commerce, faith communities, and more. Ambassadors receive a set of slide presentations, scripts, handouts, and a customizable flyer for promotion purposes.
SAGE Table is an opportunity to build intergenerational connections that can sustain us all as we age. Individuals host intergenerational SAGE Table events to bring people in their community together, tackling the problem of loneliness that affects people of all ages in the LGBTQ+ community. Host a meal and a conversation with friends and allies with this national SAGE “fund and friend-raiser.”
Local opportunities at SAGE in New York include ad hoc volunteer opportunities like meal service, event support, and front desk supervision, as well as participation in their Friendly Visiting program, which matches screened and trained volunteers with LGBTQ+ older adults (“Friends at Home”) to form relationships that are mutually rewarding and build community. Those who become Friendly Visitors have committed to at least one year of involvement with the client. They visit once a week for an hour or two and make calls between visits and attend supportive and educational meetings every other month.
Create the Good is AARP’s volunteer resource, with opportunities to volunteer virtually or in person. You can find your volunteer match by registering and creating a profile to receive local opportunities matching your skills and interests. Receive notifications when new opportunities are available in your area, and get inspiration, info, and resources from a monthly newsletter, project guides, and articles. Or look for experienced volunteers to help with your own service projects, big or small. One handy tool is their Looking to Volunteer search engine. Add LGBTQ+ to any area of interest to find opportunities specifically addressing the community.
This international organization offers the chance to volunteer abroad, providing one-to-three-week paid opportunities to create, nurture and sustain the well-being of the world’s children and their families. Volunteers are welcomed into homes, classrooms, clinics, community centers, hospitals, orphanages, childcare centers, libraries, government offices, farm fields, and more on exceptional international service-learning programs that provide essential services of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. LGBTQ+ projects in 17 different countries are among the available opportunities.
National Coalition for the Homeless
Approximately 40% of homeless youth in America identify as LGBTQ+, facing social stigma, discrimination, and often rejection from their families which only adds to the physical and mental challenges homelessness already presents. National Coalition for the Homeless is a resource to volunteer, contribute food or clothing, raise money, and learn more about homelessness and how you can make a positive impact.
The Trevor Project
The Trevor Project has been making a positive impact since 1998 when they began providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ+ youth ages 13-24. You can sign up for email updates and spread the word to ensure friends and family have access to their resources, or volunteer to become a trained counselor with a minimum one-year commitment after graduating from training. In-person and remote opportunities are available.
Your local LGBTQ+ Community Center
Community centers serving LGBTQ+ populations come in all sizes and regions, but a survey by the Movement Advancement Project found that they are chronically understaffed. Nearly 200 centers across the U.S. serve community needs, from healthcare to Pride parades, but almost a quarter have no paid staff and rely solely on volunteers. Find your local community center through CenterLink, the online community of LGBTQ+ centers, or just google it. They can use your help!