How Retired Senior Volunteer Programs Work

Voter receiving instructions on using a new machine from a volunteer.
Retired and restless? You could put your life and professional experience to work volunteering.
Š F. Young

You had a great working career, with lots of exciting challenges. Now you've retired and you're ready to enjoy your leisure time. There's only one problem -- you have a little too much leisure time.

If you're finding your retirement schedule a bit too empty for your liking, you may want to consider becoming a volunteer. Volunteering can help you give back to your community while filling your leisure time with rewarding experiences. Participating in a senior-specific program like the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) can be enjoyable because it is geared toward likeminded individuals at similar stages in their lives.


RSVP doesn't have many restrictions. As long as volunteers are 55 or older, there are a variety of opportunities and time commitments available to participants. You've earned your retirement, so you should be able to enjoy a balance of helping others and leaving time for yourself.

Whether you are interested in distributing food or tutoring children, there are many different experiences waiting for willing volunteers. Are you well versed in a particular area of business? Serve as a volunteer consultant. Love your local landmarks or your area's aquarium? Become a volunteer guide. Maybe you're interested in keeping up with your grandchildren across the country. Serving as a clerical volunteer may give you the opportunity to keep up with the latest technology to e-mail or chat with them no matter how far away you might be. Not only do these volunteer programs help others, but they can help volunteers as well.

This article will discuss the safety and benefits of RSVP. Interested in the opportunity to spend your leisure years doing something exciting and rewarding? Begin by learning how you can stay safe when volunteering through the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program.


Retired and Senior Volunteer Safety

Volunteering through specific retired and senior programs can be a great idea. It allows you to help others while participating in projects that are specifically geared toward seniors and retirees. As a senior citizen and/or retiree, you've reached a certain stage in your life. With that comes life experience that can be extremely valuable to your community. It can also mean that you might have certain health concerns, which could lead you to wonder, "Will I be safe while volunteering?"

By volunteering through a large, organized group like the Corporation for National & Community Service, which administers the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program, you can expect certain additional safety measures. As they say, safety in numbers.


What if something does happen to you while you're volunteering? Hopefully nothing will, but if you work through RSVP, you'll likely have a safety net in place. For example, all senior volunteers who are registered and participating in officially sanctioned RSVP events through the Central Iowa RSVP program and the Sacramento County, Calif. RSVP program are covered by special insurance. Whether you are training, heading to or from a volunteer session, or at the volunteering event itself, RSVP provides special insurance for all of its volunteers [source: RSVP Volunteer]. During those times, participants will be covered by supplemental accident insurance, personal insurance and automobile liability insurance to help keep you protected against the unexpected [source: Department of Human Assistance].

To learn about additional benefits of the Retired and Senior Volunteer Programs, read on.


Benefits of Retired and Senior Volunteer Programs

Volunteering can be an incredibly rewarding experience -- that's why so many people do it. It's a great way to help others, and share your life experiences and wisdom -- plus you can always learn something new.

Volunteering through Retired and Senior Volunteer Programs has additional benefits geared specifically toward their participants. For example, a newly retired person might have a hard time leaving the nine-to-five working world. It can be difficult to be constantly on the move, and then suddenly shift to getting up at 7 a.m. only to have no place to go. Becoming an RSVP volunteer can help with that adjustment by providing you with volunteer work to help ease that transition. And it's not just for the newly retired. If you've been retired for a while, but you're starting to get tired of your new routine, being an RSVP volunteer can help ease you back into being active.


RSVP doesn't require its participants to have previous volunteer experience, nor does it mandate a large time commitment from you. RSVP offers a number of different programs with varying time commitments [source: Community Service Society]. You can volunteer for projects that utilize skills you already have or you can choose opportunities that will teach you new and interesting things.

Many scientists and health professionals agree that people who are active and socially engaged have more fulfilling life experiences. As an RSVP volunteer, you'll have the opportunity to meet many new people while staying active.

And, perhaps the biggest benefit to volunteering is getting more time to enjoy your retirement. It turns out, volunteering could lead to a longer life. According to a recent study, retired volunteers aged 65 years old or older are less likely to die than retirees of the same age who do not volunteer [source: Forbes].

If you or someone you know is interested in becoming a part of the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program, look for a chapter in your area by visiting their Web site ( To learn more, visit the links on the following page.


Lots More Information

Related HowStuffWorks Articles

  • Community Service Society. "Volunteer Information." (Accessed 5/1/09)
  • Corporation for National and Community Service. "RSVP." (Accessed 5/1/09)
  • Department of Human Assistance. "Retired Senior Volunteer Program." (Accessed 5/1/09)
  • Forbes. "Seniors Who Volunteer May Live Longer: Altruistic activities could cut the death risk in half, study finds." (Accessed 5/13/09)
  • Get Involved. "Join RSVP Today!" (Accessed 5/1/09)
  • National Association of RSVP Directors. "Benefits Provided by NARSVPD." (Accessed 5/1/09)
  • Peterson, Todd. "Katrina Heroes Get Oprah's Favorite Things." People Magazine. November 21, 2005. (Accessed 5/1/09),,1133261,00.html
  • Retired Senior Volunteer Program. "RSVP." (Accessed 5/1/09)
  • RSVP Volunteer. "Central Iowa RSVP." (Accessed 5/1/09)
  • Volunteer Center of Northwest Suburban Chicago. "Retired and Senior Volunteer Program." (Accessed 5/1/09)