Volunteer Travel Opportunities for Seniors

Habitat for Humanity

GreaterVolusiaCounty Hz 2color 2 300x115Part of the Sunny Side for Seniors is the ability to leave home and routine responsibilities for long periods. As middle-aged or young adults, we have family, work and other responsibilities that bind us to one place.  For most of us, the idea of volunteering for weeks, months or more of service in a far-off place is not realistic. Until, that is, we reach retirement.
There are a number of organizations that recruit and organize volunteers who are able to spend time in a given cause. These groups range from unusual and esoteric causes like the Orangutan Foundation International to familiar names such as Habitat for Humanity. All of them are interested in senior volunteers who have time to devote to a cause and can manage to be away from routine, daily chores for a while.
Keep in mind that most of these opportunities are not in “touristy” locations like metropolitan London or Rome. They are often in places that many people would never visit if it were not for these volunteer programs. However, this experience can be a very enlightening and rewarding venture for seniors who have never had the time before.
If you have been active in a church or service organization in the past, that might be the best place to start. Ask your pastor or non-profit organization leader about volunteer opportunities, especially involving travel. If they do not organize such activities themselves, they may have connections to people who do. A lot of groups (e.g. Habitat for Humanity) are looking for volunteers who have specific skills like carpentry, but there are also opportunities for more common skills. Volunteers may assist by teaching basic conversational English to a wide variety of students, or by helping with child care.
Obviously, some of these opportunities are not for everybody. The Orangutan Foundation warns that volunteers should be able to work in hot, humid conditions while the Discover Corps offers a pace and physical activity level that varies to accommodate travelers with a wide range of interests and preferences.
Here is a partial list of some of the better-known volunteer organizations that might offer just the opportunity you seek:

  • Earthwatch Institute – An international nonprofit organization that has invested in almost 1400 conservation projects around the world (over 120 countries). Many of these are for outdoor types, but there are also opportunities in sustainable cities programs. Volunteers work in a variety of scientific and social science research around the world. 40% of their participants are older adults or seniors.
  • Habitat for Humanity (Headquarters and International Programs) – A non-denominational Christian organization that helps provide housing around the world, building homes appropriate to each area. Habitat has positions for people with no building experience, as well as persons who are expert in the skilled trades. These programs are in countries worldwide. Habitat says that senior volunteers are a “very significant” part of their workers.
  • International Volunteer HQ – An organization that offers low-cost senior vacations in locations around the world. These take advantage of the experience and skills of seniors and provide “homestay” and private room options with local families if desired.
  • Global Volunteers – An international development organization that assembles teams of volunteers to help with projects around the world in programs like teaching conversational English, caring for children, assisting with health care, schools and community facilities. Almost 50% of their volunteers are seniors, mostly from the U.S. and Canada.
  • The GeoVisions Foundation – A Connecticut-based organization that offers opportunities to teach conversational English to families in other nations while living with the family. Their informational literature states, “Don’t worry if you’ve never done this before! Your new host family is more interested in learning conversational English than they are in learning grammar.”
  • Orangutan Foundation International – Yes, that is a real thing dedicated to saving one of the most endangered species on earth. You must be an adventurous type, interested in saving endangered species and visiting Indonesia. It’s different from teaching conversational English in France or Italy, but very satisfying to some people.

The list above offers a chance for far-away travel while helping a good cause. Of course, there are many volunteer opportunities here at home. Habitat for Humanity probably has a very active local chapter in your community (check out Habitat Volusia). OurSeniors.net is very proud to be associated with the Halifax Humane Society, a non-profit that is always in need of volunteers. Call them at 386-274-4929.
Traveling and volunteering are important parts of the “Sunny Side of Senior Lifestyles” and OurSeniors.net wants to help seniors take advantage of the opportunities and meet the challenges of senior living. Please remember to take advantage of all of the Ourseniors.net resources available to you. They include:

You can contact an OurSeniors.net Advisor by phone at 866-333-2657 (se habla Español), or by using Contact Us.

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