How to Find a Volunteering Opportunity That’s Right for You

Central Par VolunteersNewly retired who find themselves with all those extra hours they used to spend in the office often start looking for volunteering opportunities. However, the universe of non-profits is so huge that it may be difficult to pick the right volunteering opportunity. Do you want to sign up with a large, high-prestige organization like a major museum, or do you prefer to work with a smaller dance or theater company? Is being outdoors your thing? Then maybe doing spring or fall clean-up in one of the New York City’s many parks looks tempting. Do you love to work with children? Consider volunteer tutoring.

The opportunities to volunteer in NYC are endless. For example, New York Public Library was recently looking for volunteers to teach chess, crochet and knitting.  The list changes continually, so check their website for the latest information.

Next, ask yourself what do you want from the volunteering experience? Are you looking to make social connections and find new friends? Utilize the skills you have learned during your long career? Get a behind-the-scenes look into something that you love? Look for a potential second career?

In order to get some insight into picking a volunteering opportunity, we spoke to  Phyllis Gates, who has been for many years an active member and/or board member of several different charities.

Q:What is the most important thing you should consider in picking a charity to volunteer for?
A: Passion — or at least interest in — its cause.
Q: What would a typical volunteer experience be like for a small charity vs. large high-profile one?
A:  More relaxed, less formal/structured meetings & probably more work.
Q: How much time should you expect to spend on volunteering? Is there a minimum you should plan for?
A:  The time & energy you have or want to give — made clear to the organization before commitment.
Q: If your main objective is to make new friends, what type of charity do you recommend?
A:  Stick to your passion/interest in its cause…you’ll find like-minded folk there.
Q: What type of a person makes a good, valuable volunteer?
A:  Generous, flexible, organized, committed.
Q: Is there a type of person who should not volunteer?
A:  No, there’s room for everyone (or his/her money).



Author My First Apartment
Seija Goldstein

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Seija Goldstein has lived in New York City for 40 years and has no intention of ever leaving. After working full time in media and raising two wonderful children, she is now planning to sample everything that her favorite city has to offer. She will be reporting her experiences on this blog and inviting other New York City Boomers to join in the adventure.

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