In 1908, Winston Churchill asked, “What is the use of living, if it be not to strive for noble causes and to make this muddled world a better place for those who will live in it after we are gone?” With all of the extra time that comes with retirement, what is the use of retired living, if not to strive for noble causes?

Not only does volunteering make good use of the free time that accompanies retirement, but it also improves mood, builds a sense of purpose, helps prevent social isolation, and encourages seniors to stay involved in their communities. More importantly, volunteering helps others!

Here are a few ways you can live your retirement with “noble causes” and eventually leave this world a better place.


  • Help at an animal shelter. Local animal shelters have a ton of animals that need care and attention. By helping out, you’ll better the lives of animals who may have been abandoned or abused and get a new furry friend in the process. Many shelters give you the option to interact with the animals or help with such administrative work as stuffing envelopes or helping with an event.
  • Serve at a soup kitchen. Help give those who are less fortunate some of their basic human needs including food, water, shelter, and companionship. Soup kitchens and shelters have a variety of jobs from sorting and setting up, to cooking and serving meals.
  • Help build a home. Habitat for Humanity helps eliminate poverty and homelessness by providing volunteer-built homes to those in need. There are a number of ways to help from donating money to building homes. There are also maintenance jobs including painting, landscaping, and minor repairs.
  • Become a foster grandparent. Run by the volunteer group Senior Corps, the foster grandparent program allows you to serve children by providing comfort and love to those who have been abused or neglected. You can also work with troubled teens and young mothers. With this program, you’ll serve in a variety of locations including schools, juvenile correctional institutions, Head Start centers, and hospitals.
  • Help your peers. Many seniors who are confined to the home are unable to grocery shop or go out and enjoy a good meal. It may be difficult for them to even cook a meal in their home. Meals on Wheels provides meals and companionship to seniors who need these things each day. The program relies on volunteers to prepare and deliver the meals to homes and spend time with those they are serving. Volunteers can also work behind the scenes.
  • Join a volunteer club. If you want to volunteer, but don’t want to organize or plan your activity, join a volunteer club that will do it for you. You can also get a number of resources from the clubs and you’ll make new friends. Some popular, nationwide clubs to look into are Kiwanis, Lion’s Club, and Senior Corps – a branch of AmeriCorps for seniors who are 55 and older.


  • Mentor/tutor online. Help others from the comfort of your home by becoming an online mentor or tutor. You’ll be able to develop a relationship with someone, while also helping them learn something new, stay on the right path, or just have someone to talk to.
  • Bake for a group or event. If you love baking, why not bake some treats for a local event, soup kitchen, or group of special people. You can bake treats for your local fire department or police station to say thank you or send desserts over to a shelter to make a meal more special for someone in need. You can have someone from the business pick them up or ask a loved one to deliver them.
  • Put your knitting and crocheting skills to work. There’s nothing more comforting than a warm blanket or piece of clothing, especially if it’s homemade. Make blankets and quilts for the homeless, terminally ill, or animals in shelters. You can also crochet hats for cancer patients going through chemotherapy. You can contact a local charity or church who works with these kinds of nonprofits to find out how you can send them.
  • Create Bedtime Bags. Build a cute bedtime bag to make the night a little less scary for youth in homeless shelters. You can fill the bags with things like books, stuffed animals, warm pajamas, and blankets. You can contact a local shelter to have someone pick them up or ask a loved one to deliver them.
Volunteer Ideas for Seniors