Boomers who have retired from healthcare careers, or those interested in healthcare can find a wide assortment of places and ways to offer their help in an area with many volunteer opportunities. Your involvement is needed and welcomed by all types of medical and healthcare organizations, including…

Community Healthcare
Non-profit community health clinics bring low-cost or free healthcare to underserved, disadvantaged and low-income populations, minorities, elderly, families, children and others.

Often working with limited budgets, these organizations depend heavily on volunteers with medical and non-medical skills for day-to-day operations. On the medical and dental side, many professionals such as doctors, nurses, clinicians, dentists, technicians are always needed, as are volunteers who serve as medical advocates, screeners, interpreters and translators. If you have background on the business side, your background in office support, technology and computer services, as well as graphic design, communication, and fundraising event support is also welcome.

Community Mental Health
Community Mental Health non-profits serve the mentally ill, as well as adults and children with addictions. Mental health organizations are supported by private organizations, faith-based organizations, and city and county governments. The types of specialties they represent include family and individual mental health and addictions.

  • Volunteer opportunities range from mental health professionals and those who assist them, to childcare, education, manning crisis phone lines and socializing in residential facilities. Volunteers also work in office settings, gardens, thrift stores and at special events. Most organizations require background checks of volunteers.
  • See Community Mental Health Organizations for a list of non-profits that seek volunteers.

Health-based Organizations
These familiar organizations focus on advancing cures and treatment of a specific condition or disease, and services and support for people and families affected by the disease. Among the best known are the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, MS Society and Alzheimer’s Association, all with local chapters. The work of many non-profits focuses on various children’s diseases and conditions such as cancer, autism, kidney disease and cerebral palsy.

Organizations seek volunteers in roles that support their mission and activities. In general, volunteers help provide services, educate the public and raise money. They also work in office roles, maintain databases, file and answer phones. On the communications side, volunteers may help with websites, social media, graphic design, photography and writing blogs.

Boomers often choose organizations that speak to their hearts – the disease or condition may affect them or their families or friends.

Hospitals and Medical Centers
By this time in our lives, most Boomers are no strangers to medical centers and hospitals. We often recall the kindness of hospital volunteers who showed us to a room or brought us flowers or a newspaper. Volunteers bring joy to people during what can be stressful times. Most hospitals offer volunteer positions throughout their operations.

Duties of hospital volunteers vary widely depending upon the facility. Volunteers may work in staff reception areas and gift shops, file and retrieve documents and mails, take out trash, clean up after nurses and doctors, provide administrative backup, assist with research, help visitors, visit with patients or transport various small items like flowers, medical records, lab specimens and drugs from unit to unit.

Other “advanced volunteers” include patient-care liaisons and volunteer orderlies. These volunteers operate on the orders of a nurse or a physician and are given special training to work with patients. They also are more common in large hospitals, particularly university-affiliated hospitals and teaching hospitals, as they allow pre-medical students to gain experience in patient care while taking pressure off a busy care team.

Volunteer positions and applications are posted on a hospital’s website.

  • See Medical Centers, Hospitals for a list of non-profits that welcome senior volunteers.

Hospice and End of Life Care
Volunteers provide important services to hospice organizations and the people they serve. Whether providing companionship to a person in the final months and weeks of life, offering support to family and caregivers, or helping with community outreach and fundraising, the contributions of volunteers are essential to the important work provided by hospice programs.

Every hospice relies on volunteer support to provide excellent end-of-life care to each patient and family. In fact, Medicare requires that 5% of patient care time be provided by volunteers. By being a hospice volunteer, you can gain great personal satisfaction from knowing that you have made an impact in another person’s life.