Residents in Maui and across the state live longer and healthier lives than those on the Mainland.
Today's retirees can expect years, sometimes decades, of healthy, active retirement. With that gift of time comes many opportunities for learning, growth and relaxation.
For those planning retirement, how do you expect to spend your retirement years? The transition from full-time work into retirement can be challenging. Those who create structure early in retirement fair better than those who have little structure. Structure comes in all forms. It can include spending more time with family and friends, developing new talents, learning new skills, beginning an "encore career," and building in time for long overdue rest and relaxation.
Many also choose to give back through volunteer service. Research now tells us what many have known for years. Post-retirement volunteering benefits everyone. Let's take a look at the statistics.
Nationally, more than 25 percent of adults over age 55 provide volunteer service. Volunteers on Maui help seniors live independently, mentor at-risk children and youth, beautify native forests, clean up beaches and much more.
Volunteering provides adults 55 and older with mental and physical health benefits including lower rates of depression and fewer physical or mobility challenges.
Volunteering can provide purpose and meaning for older adults.
Volunteers allow nonprofit organizations to meet the needs of their clientele even with shrinking budgets.
The benefits are greatest when volunteer responsibilities match volunteer interests and available time. Ask yourself the following questions:
What are my interests and hobbies? List as many as you can think of and ask others for input.
What am I passionate about?
What topics can you discuss for hours?
Are they injustices you see in the community, politics, helping those in need? Again, ask those who know you best; they will be able to help with this list.
What organizations have helped you or your ohana in the past? Perhaps Meals on Wheels brought tutu meals when she had to give up driving or a school volunteer helped your keiki with math when they were younger.
What local businesses or organizations focus on the interests, passions, hobbies, or services on your list?
For help in finding volunteer opportunities, consider the following:
Attend a community fair. Most fairs have exhibitors from community agencies that have volunteer opportunities. To find fairs, visit www.calendarmaui.com, the Maui County government website and the community events page of The Maui News.
Visit www.HandsOnMaui.org. This website is sponsored by the Maui County Volunteer Center and is a database of local organizations that accept volunteers. Browse the organizations or search for specific opportunities. When you find one that sounds interesting, contact the organization to learn more.
Contact Kaunoa Senior Service RSVP in Spreckelsville. The Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) focuses specifically on volunteer opportunities for adults "55 and better." When volunteering through an RSVP agency, volunteers may receive partial transportation reimbursement, liability insurance while volunteering, and an annual volunteer recognition event. Even though the office is located in Spreckelsville, volunteer opportunities are throughout the entire county. Contact Kaunoa RSVP at 270-7986.
Contact the University of Hawaii Cooperative Extension. UH Cooperative Extension is the educational outreach arm of UH-Manoa's College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources. The Maui office is located on the UH-Maui College campus and provides learning and volunteering opportunities to Maui County residents and visitors. These programs include the Maui Master Gardener Program, 4-H youth development leaders, Powerful Tools for Caregivers facilitators, and the Foster Grandparent Volunteer program, Food Safety and Nutrition, and Agriculture. Contact UH Extension at 244-3242.
Each year, the Maui County Office on Aging and the Office of the Mayor selects two Outstanding Older Americans. Nominations are received during the first months of each year. All nominees are invited to a luncheon during National Volunteer Month where the winners are announced. Past winners have contributed to the community throughout their life and continue their service into retirement years. Even though next year's nominations are months away, keep an eye out for those who are making a difference in the community and nominate them for recognition next year.
Thanks to the volunteers who spend their retirement years serving Maui County. And for those who have been thinking about it - today is the day to find your volunteering niche. Help keep yourself and Maui strong and beautiful through service and community action.
* Heather Greenwood is with the University of Hawaii Manoa Cooperative Extension, Maui Intergenerational and Aging Programs. Aging Matters will cover topics of interest to the aging Maui community and will appear on the third Sunday of each month.