Being retired doesn't mean you have to stop working. In fact, now that you have the luxury of time without many of the responsibilities of your younger years--a family to raise, a hefty mortgage, etc.--you can pursue what truly interests you.
Maybe you'd like to indulge your love of the arts. Or maybe you want to continue to practice some of the skills you've learned in your career. Either way, volunteer opportunities are a great way to keep your mental edge and make connections in your community.
There are plenty of volunteer organizations that need your expertise--and your help. Many organizations even let you help from anywhere, whenever you have free time.
Check out the following options for a taste of what's out there and also inquire at your favorite community organizations. In addition, the U.S. government has a website, United We Serve, that encourages Americans to get involved in their communities and matches them with volunteer opportunities.
If you're a financial whiz, have a knack for setting a budget and like to teach others, the AARP Foundation's Finances 50+ organization may be the perfect fit. The organization both teaches financial literacy to older adults and provides mentors to help struggling individuals with their finances.
The teaching portion is done in a classroom setting, while mentoring can be done over the phone or via the Internet. And you don't need professional experience to help out: The AARP Foundation provides all the training and tools you need.
To learn more about the program and see what is available in the area, visit the AARP Foundation.
Whether you're a longtime knitter or you're just learning the craft, there are several charities looking for knitted items you can make at home and send in.
For example, started through the National WWII Museum in New Orleans, Knit Your Bit collects hand-knit scarves that are donated to veterans through veterans centers across the country. Check out their website to get more information or download suggested scarf patterns.
If you're an animal lover, the Snuggles Project collects small blankets, known as snuggles, which are used to comfort newly arrived animals at shelters across the country. The Snuggles Project website has several patterns and information about becoming a member or donating your knitting.
Many organizations need letter writers to help fill their needs.
Hugs and Hope, for example, sends letters to sick children throughout the United States. When you work for this charity, you can choose a child, write a custom letter and even mail it yourself. A directory of children is available on the Hugs and Hope website.
Women can sign up for the Bringing Joy to a Senior group. This group writes letters, cards of encouragement and postcards to lonely senior citizens throughout the country. For more information, or to join the group, visit the Yahoo! group page.
If you're a literature buff, you can help preserve the classics. Distributed Proofreaders scans images of rare, out-of-print or older books, volunteers proofread the images and type out the text, and books are converted into eBooks used on the public domain--meaning anyone, anywhere, can read the books for free.
For more information, or to sign up as a proofreader, visit the Distributed Proofreaders website.