Celebrate National Volunteer Week with Volunteer Caregiving Opportunities

Chad Birt

Written by Chad Birt on Sat Apr 15 2023.

Celebrate National Volunteer Week with Volunteer Caregiving Opportunities

National Volunteer Week occurs April 16-23 as part of Global Volunteer Month. The holiday encourages people from all walks of life to get involved in their communities through the power of volunteerism. 

There are thousands of worthy volunteer organizations out there, but today, we’re focusing on those that support seniors. Here are 7 volunteer organizations worth championing:

1) Walk With Pop

Research shows people who live sedentary lifestyles are also more likely to have health problems, compared to their active counterparts.

Walk With Pop encourages connection and community by pairing older adults with vetted and trained walking companions. The program mainly serves adults 70+, but there are no limits on age or ability. In fact, people with walkers, canes, and wheelchairs regularly participate.

Currently, the program is only available in the San Francisco Bay Area region but there are plans to expand. If you’re not on the west coast, you can add your city to the waitlist by sending an email to hello@walkwithpop.com.

2) Love For Our Elders

About 27% of American seniors live alone –– that’s more than 14.7 million people! 

Unfortunately, social isolation often leads to loneliness. One study even found that 43% of people 60 and older report feeling lonely, which can increase the risk of various health problems, including:

  • Stroke

  • Heart disease

  • Mental health disorders (e.g. depression and anxiety)

Love For Our Elders is fighting back by making the world less lonely for seniors. 

Each month, the organization posts letter requests from seniors around the world. Volunteers can then select which requests they want to fulfill and send cards, letters, or drawings to their recipients.

Pro Tip: This volunteer opportunity is great for families. It’s a fun way to spend time with each other while supporting seniors in need.

3) AmeriCorps Seniors

AmeriCorps Seniors provides volunteer opportunities to people 55 and older.

It encourages seniors to become active community members through several core programs, including:

  • Foster Grandparent Program (guiding and mentoring students with schoolwork)

  • RSVP (opportunities aligned with the volunteer’s career experience)

  • Senior Companion Program (serving as a friend or assistant to other seniors who struggle with activities of daily living (ADL).

To find volunteer opportunities in your area, check out the AmeriCorps Seniors Pathfinder.

4) Meals on Wheels

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 9 million seniors were at risk of hunger. And, since then, that number has only grown.

Meals on Wheels is on a mission to solve senior hunger and isolation for good. It delivers nutritious, pre-prepared meals to low-income, food-insecure seniors and seniors with mobility issues. 

Here’s how it works: 

Meals on Wheels volunteers are required to deliver meals at least once a month, but you can opt to do more.

Once you become a volunteer, it’s your job to pick up warm meals from a central location and deliver them to homebound seniors.

The seniors you serve are located on a pre-determined route mapped in advance. After you finish dropping off the meals, you return the delivery packaging items and go home.

Become a Meals On Wheels Volunteer

5) Elder Helpers

The Elder Helpers program recruits, trains, and screens U.S.-based volunteers for senior care. It’s an invaluable resource for family caregivers who are feeling overwhelmed or in need of a break. 

After signing up, volunteers can offer various services, including:

  • Cleaning

  • Entertaining

  • Reading

  • Cooking

  • Gardening

  • Giving rides

To find volunteers in your area, input your zip code and click the “find helpers” button. You’ll get a list of potential matches within a specific radius of your home, featuring profile pictures and mini-bios.

6) Older Adults Technology Services - Oats & Senior Planet (from AARP)

The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) launched the Oats initiative in 2004, with the goal of “helping seniors learn and use technology so they could live better in the digital age.” In the nearly 20 years since Oats has offered more than 10,000 courses at over 70 partner sites around the country.

The Oats program doesn’t accept volunteers, but its parent –– Senior Planet –– does. Senior Planet is the technology arm of AARP. It’s committed to making older adults “more visible in digital spaces” and using new developments in technology for powerful purposes.

Anyone 60 and older can apply to become a Senior Planet Supporter.

7) Knots of Love

Do you enjoy knitting or crocheting? Then this is a volunteer opportunity for you.

Knots of Love provides:

  • Hand-knitted and crocheted beanies for people going through chemotherapy 

  • Blankets for babies in NICU incubators

The organization is based out of Ashland, Wisconsin, but donates beanies and blankets to hospitals and clinics all over the country.

If you’re interested, make sure to read the Handmade Beanie and Blanket Maker Guidelines before getting started.

This Year, Make The Most of National Volunteer Week

These are just seven of the MANY organizations providing volunteer services and/or opportunities to older Americans.

Whether you live on your own and want to socialize more or you’re a family caregiver looking for something fun to do with your loved one, the institutions listed above are worthy of your time and energy.

To quote the author and humorist, Erma Bombeck, “volunteers are the only human beings on the face of the earth who reflect…compassion, unselfish caring, patience, and just plain loving one another.”

Get out there and make a difference!

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Chad Birt
Chad Birt

Chad Birt is a freelance medical writer who resides in Astoria, Oregon. When he isn't behind a keyboard, you can find him hiking, camping, or birdwatching with his wife Ella and their two dogs, Diane and Thoreau.