Volunteering in Retirement Brings Mental, Physical Benefits
Tuesday, February 15, 2022
Many nonprofits and advocacy groups across Maine, and the nation, have seen fewer volunteers during the pandemic, but research shows donating your time to help others can improve physical and mental health.
Volunteering can also provide a sense of purpose, teach new skills and help build and nurture relationships, according to the Mayo Clinic Health System.
Carl Bucciantini, volunteer state president for AARP Maine, said everyone has valuable skills, expertise or opinions to offer. He explained he began with AARP after he and his wife retired about five years ago.
"We were just looking for something that we wanted to do," Bucciantini recounted. "We knew all the things we didn't want to do: We didn't want to be a greeter in a store, we didn't want to be a substitute teacher or bus driver or anything like that. And we thought volunteering would be something we'd like."
Bucciantini pointed out in retirement, he found a passion for legislative advocacy. He hopes as the Omicron variant surge winds down, AARP volunteers can return to weekly 'Tuesdays at the State House,' where they meet with legislators and attend committee meetings to advocate for issues of importance to Mainers over 50.
Bucciantini noted in addition to helping the community, it is great for older volunteers to be able to share their wealth of life experience and knowledge.
"What are your burning interests? What's important in your life? How can we work together to use the experiences you've had over the years to make your voice known?" Bucciantini outlined. "Everyone has a story, and everyone's story is important. And that's how change happens."
He added legislative advocacy is just one avenue for volunteering. Other opportunities through AARP include helping people file their income taxes, packing meal boxes, helping people apply for social services and tutoring underserved children. And people can always check in with local agencies and organizations when looking for ways to serve their community.
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