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RSVP: You’re Invited to Volunteer

Retirement isn’t for everyone - a look at reentering the job market

If you can afford to retire, being a volunteer instead of an employee offers the challenge, structure, and social connection that a job provides. A 2018 article on FiscalTiger.com stated, “People who retire from a career but have regular volunteer support placements… are enjoying decreases in anxiety, depression, loneliness, and social isolation, as well as enhanced physical capacity and higher life satisfaction.”

However, today, about 30 percent of adults who reach retirement age continue to work or retire and then return to paid employment. Whether it is due to inadequate financial planning or other factors, seniors may soon become the fastest growing population of job seekers. In July 2017, Bloomberg News featured an article by Ben Steverman, “Working Past 70: Americans Can’t Seem to Retire,” which stated that “US seniors are employed at the highest rates in 55 years.”

With a growing number of adults choosing to work beyond retirement age, organizations and websites geared to help seniors are growing rapidly. Don’t forget that volunteering can prepare retirees to reenter the job market.

Some search sites for employment and volunteering are:

  • AARP Foundation’s Back to Work 50+: for a free copy of the 7 Smart Strategies for 50+ Jobseekers guide, call toll-free 1-855-850-2525
  • AARP Job Board: Find help with job searches, resume writing, interviewing skills, and more
  • EARN, Northampton Senior Center: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • Job search engines: Monster.com, CareerBuilder.com, USAJobs.gov, RetiredBrains.com, RetireeWorkforce.com and Seniors4Hire.org
  • Massachusetts Department of Labor
  • Veterans Employment and Trainings Services (VETS)
  • Recruitment and staffing agencies offer temporary positions with on-the-job experience and may help with interview skills and computer skills
  • Volunteering: RSVP of the Pioneer Valley and VolunteerMatch

Whether you retire or continue to work, keep active and engaged for your health and well-being.

“Experience On Call” might be the right fit for you

Ginger ElliotGinger ElliotRSVP of the Pioneer Valley has over 600 volunteers who serve at more than 65 nonprofit agencies throughout Franklin, Hampden, and Hampshire Counties. Our volunteers represent a wide variety of skills, interests, and lifestyles. One placement option that works for many is “Experience On Call.”

What is Experience on Call at RSVP of the Pioneer Valley?

Experience On Call is not a regular weekly or monthly commitment. It provides the opportunity to volunteer for specific, time-limited events and projects. RSVP Experience On Call volunteers have helped artists to set up for fairs, provided consultation for information technology projects, cleared hiking paths, served on building project planning boards, and decorated historic homes for the holidays, among many other things. The possibilities are as varied as our volunteers are.

Jan 2019 RSVP Experience On Call photo WEBThe annual Meals on Wheels Walkathon at LifePath is an great example of an "Experience On Call" opportunity. At the annual event, volunteers help with setting up, registration, passing out t-shirts and water, guiding guests, driving the golf cart, face painting, and breaking down.Experience On Call volunteers may have registered for service in response to something they’ve seen in the “Upcoming Events” section of our monthly newsletter. Alternatively, they may have been contacted directly by an RSVP volunteer coordinator because of a specific skill set that was included in their volunteer profile upon registration. Either way, they are experiencing the benefits of volunteering, such as meeting new people, gaining confidence, and experiencing a continued sense of purpose, without making a long-term commitment.

Are you at least 55 years old? Are you interested in volunteering but too busy for a regular time commitment? Do you thrive on newness and variety? Do you enjoy the challenge of a concrete project? Would you like the chance to try out a specific volunteer activity in a limited way to see if you like it? All of these are excellent reasons why our Experience On Call program might be the right fit for you.

To get started, contact your volunteer connectors, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (Hampden County) or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (Hampshire & Franklin Counties), or call (413) 387-4558.

Holiday helping at home and away

The urge to help less fortunate people surges as the holidays approach. Most nonprofits, particularly those involved in food security, see an unmanageable swell in offers to assist from Thanksgiving through New Year’s. Calls from potential volunteers who want to feel good about helping others could triple. Organizations often cannot accommodate those wanting to serve holiday meals, visit seniors who are homebound, and deliver Meals on Wheels for a day or two. Currie Teoh, Volunteer Director for Manna on Main Street, commented, “I really wish I could bottle up this energy and tap into it at those [after holiday] times.” 

Service organizations depend on volunteers throughout the year, and RSVP of the Pioneer Valley matches volunteers who can make commitments lasting well beyond the holidays. A November 2017 article in The Huffington Post by Eleanor Goldberg stated that “nonprofits really need help when volunteer numbers dry up after New Year’s.” Shortages occur in December and January when college students are on semester break and retirees hasten to warm weather retreats. Extra volunteers are needed then to answer phones, drive seniors to medical appointments, pack and deliver meals, stock food pantries, help  seniors who are homebound to pay bills, lead exercise classes, and more.

We encourage our RSVP volunteers to make ongoing commitments, and for our volunteers who winter away, we will connect you to RSVP programs in that area. But if you only have a bit of time, some ideas for holiday episodic volunteering include gathering a group for a singalong at a local veterans home, offering to serve and eat a meal with residents of a nursing home, or taking a shift to ring the bell for the Salvation Army Red Kettle Drive.

If you want to make a difference in your community and have a few hours to regularly share your talent and experience, you are needed. Contact me, Pat Sicard, volunteer manager, RSVP of the Pioneer Valley, at 413-387-4558 x1 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. today.

Winter is coming

Ginger RSVPGinger ElliotWinter is coming (and we’re not just talking about the final season of Game of Thrones!).

The days are getting shorter and temperatures are falling. The prospect of upcoming holidays and family obligations may have you feeling melancholy or stressed. Then, after the holidays are finally over, we can look forward to… at least ten more weeks of winter! As the saying goes, summer flies and winter walks.

How to deal with the winter blahs?

In Norway, where winters are even longer, there is a word, “koselig,” which describes a state of being warm and cozy. We can embrace the opportunities for “koselig” that winter brings: long nights for sleeping under extra blankets; the delicious smells of savory soups and stews; a tempting pile of books; time to catch up with a favorite television series. Finding things that we enjoy about this time of year can help us get through the parts that simply have to be endured.

Photo of Joy and RobertRobert Amyot, a volunteer Ombudsman with LifePath, enjoys a conversation with Joy Page, a resident of Poet's Seat Health Care Center. Each week, Ombudsman volunteers visit the residents of their assigned nursing or rest home. They spend just a couple of hours there, hearing resident’s concerns, advocating for their rights, and helping resolve their complaints, but their dedication makes a big difference in the lives of the residents.Once you make sure that you are getting your daily allotment of “koselig,” it is time to get out of the house! Regular physical and mental activity is also important in fighting off the blahs. This could be the time to join that book group, sign up for a class, try yoga, swim laps at the community pool, walk at the mall, or learn to snowshoe. There are added benefits if the activity is new to you and/or if you do it with others.

Volunteering is a great way to get out of the house, try something you haven’t tried before, and meet new people. RSVP of the Pioneer Valley has over 300 volunteer positions in towns and cities throughout Hampshire, Franklin, and Hampden counties, and we will help you find the one that is just right for you. You will, however, need to find your own winter “koselig”!

To begin your volunteering adventure before winter gets underway, contact Pat Sicard, RSVP of the Pioneer Valley volunteer manager, by phone at 413-387-4558 x1 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Volunteering improves brain function and boosts happiness

Volunteers make a world of difference in the lives of those they serve, and giving back also benefits the volunteer. According to the AARP at www.createthegood.org, benefits of volunteering for older adults can include lowering stress, finding new friends and social opportunities, gaining confidence and a continued sense of purpose. Aren’t you more interesting company when you have something to talk about?

April 2018 Volunteers to be thanked in The Good Life photo WEBLifePath offers many opportunities to volunteer. Shown here, Rides for Health Volunteer Driver Steve McKnight helps Martha Shibilo to her car. Martha says that without Steve, "I don't know what I’d do. I really don't know what I'd do. I just call him and ask him if he can pick me up at a certain time, and he's right there. Hasn't refused me yet,” she laughs.“Brain Benefits for Seniors Who Volunteer,” a 2009 study by Johns Hopkins University, revealed that “volunteering increases brain functioning because activity gets you moving and thinking at the same time.” Volunteers also experience “The Happiness Effect,” which is similar to the aftermath of a vigorous workout. That feeling of happiness and well-being comes from a release of dopamine in the brain, and helping others has that exact same effect. The more you volunteer, the happier you become!

So, as the song says, “Don’t worry, be happy,” and use those extra hours in your weekly schedule for good. Share your skills and experience to benefit local nonprofits, make new friends, or help an organization that has helped you. RSVP of the Pioneer Valley is the volunteer connector for adults 55 and older who have some time and wish to help food banks, meals programs, thrift shops, or give elders who are homebound  some companionship or rides to medical appointments. RSVP offers options, you choose, and we facilitate the match.

Want more suggestions to challenge your interests and skills? Contact me, RSVP Volunteer Manager Pat Sicard, now This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 413-387-4558 x1.