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Work To Be Done: Volunteering Over 50

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For everywhere we look, there is work to be done... as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. We have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character than giving our all to a difficult task.

Our new president spoke these words to us yesterday, challenging and exhorting us to do what we can, gladly. Our country—and our world—are full of opportunities to do useful work, but how do you find the right one for you? If you’re over 50, consider the following:

  • Senior Corps, a national effort begun in the 1960s, connects people over 55 with people and programs that need them. Three programs currently exist under the Senior Corps umbrella: Foster Grandparents, Senior Companions, and RSVP.
  • The Peace Corps is looking for people over 50.
  • Experience Corps finds people over 55 to tutor, mentor, and work with afterschool programs in New York City and over 20 other cities nationwide.
  • If you’re in New York City and want to volunteer in the public elementary or high schools, consider Learning Leaders.
  • New York Cares works in hundreds of locations throughout New York City and touches the lives of hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers each year.
  • SCORE volunteers counsel those struggling to start or grow a small business.
  • If you want to mentor a child, the Mentoring Partnership will help you find a program that’s right for you.
  • ReServe Elder Service connects New York City’s retired professionals with compensated service opportunities.
  • Women over 50 should take a look at the Transition Network’s website for plenty of ideas for volunteering, and much, much more.
  • Other places to look are the New York City Department for the Aging website and, of course, AARP’s user-friendly website.
  • The Mayor's Volunteer Center of New York City has partnered with the United Way of New York City to produce an amazing website.

And I would be negligent if I didn’t mention Civic Ventures' Purpose Prize, which awards up to $100,000 to several Americans aged 60 or over each year to take on a major challenge of society. The New York Public Library will be welcoming several winners of The Purpose Prize and representatives from Civic Ventures, to an event at the South Court auditorium of the Humanities and Social Sciences Library on Saturday, February 28, 2009 at 2 P.M. Come to find out how you too can help solve a problem of society, whether local, national, or global.

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