The organization Bergen Volunteers has long sought to connect people who want to give their time with people or organizations who need it. Two years ago, the non-profit decided to zero in on retirees as a potential source of new volunteer blood.
Its “Redefining Retirement” program has since placed 100 older adults in positions with non-profit organizations in the region. Many participants say their new volunteer roles are as valuable to their own lives as they are to the people they help, said Lynne Algrant, chief executive officer of Bergen Volunteers.
“It is incredibly life-affirming to be busy and to be useful and to feel connected to a community,” Algrant said.
Retiring can be particularly isolating for people whose work lives had become their primary social connections, especially for those who had commuted to New York City and had fewer ties in their local communities.
Even those who raised families in Teaneck can feel less connected after aging out of the school and youth sports volunteering roles they once played.
Volunteering in later years “provides order and structure to people who might have lost that after they stopped working or after their kids moved out of the house. It’s very easy for your circle to shrink rapidly,” Algrant said.
Some retirees offer expertise gained from their careers while others develop new skills in positions vastly different from their other life experiences.
“So often when we talk about older adults, we talk about the needs they have and not about the talents they have,” Algrant said. “Here in Bergen County, we have so much talent and wisdom and experience and it would really be a waste to have it tucked away playing mahjong and golf.”
To learn more about the Redefining Retirement program, call 201-489-9454, ext. 206, or log onto www.bergenvolunteers.org
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Age-Friendly Teaneck formed in 2016 with this mission in mind: A great place to grow up should be a great place to grow old.