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Senior Living
Aug 23, 2022

Volunteering in Retirement – Plenty of Opportunities in the Cape Fear Region

Sponsored Content provided by Michela Hochschild - Director of Marketing, Riverlights Living


Retirement has morphed into an exceptionally active phase of life, with many seniors joyfully discovering they now have time to devote to causes and interests that had taken a backseat to career and family obligations. 


Aside from wanting to volunteer, research shows seniors should volunteer as there are real and measurable benefits to staying active and engaged in social activities and one’s community.


The National Institute on Aging and the Mayo Clinic offer research that indicates older adults with an active lifestyle, including meaningful volunteer work, are happier, as their sense of purpose contributes to overall life satisfaction. 


Volunteering also keeps seniors physically active, which in turn, keeps them healthier, with studies showing engaged seniors are less likely to develop health problems, such as dementia, heart disease, stroke, and some types of cancer. Likewise, the mental stimulation of volunteering may have a positive effect on memory and cognitive abilities.



Indeed, taking all these potential benefits together, volunteering can contribute to a longer lifespan, as one’s happiness, health, and sense of purpose are all linked to living longer. 


So much for volunteering for the benefit of others. Maybe it’s downright selfish! 


Here in the Cape Fear Region, there are several valuable places to start where one can find the volunteer opportunity that best suits available time, interests, and capacities.


Share Cape Fear is a website administered by United Way of the Cape Fear Area. Here you can search among area nonprofits, filter by who it helps (families, children, the environment, or animals, for example), what it provides (education, healthcare, housing, etc.), or causes (the list is comprehensive).  You can also explore specific and current volunteer needs and recurring opportunities. 


The Harrelson Center is another gem for volunteers in the Wilmington area.  What was the former New Hanover County Jail, is now a campus for some 30-plus humanitarian nonprofits.  Here, organizations address critical issues and work synergistically to provide urgent needs and address underlying conditions. Tours of the Harrelson Center are offered twice a month so you can learn more about the individual nonprofits and their current needs.  It’s a challenge to leave that tour without finding opportunities to provide meaningful impact.


The Cape Fear Volunteer Center matches agencies with volunteers for service throughout the region. CFVC has long managed the area’s Big Buddy program. But, CFVC also matches individuals, often seniors, with volunteers willing to assist with such tasks as a ride to the doctor, help with a one-time lawn need, or helping someone who may be downsizing and doesn't have the physical ability to box things up. CFVC always needs mentors and tutors for children, as well as handymen, cookie bakers, transporters, and organizers of all kinds. Register your interest on their website.  


Individual nonprofits are always eager for volunteers, as well. Here is just a small sampling of opportunities: 


NourishNC relies on volunteers to fill backpacks with food so our community’s children never go hungry. 


In 2020, the Good Shepherd Center saw 500 volunteers log 14,577 hours serving their hungry and homeless neighbors. 


Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard operates its food pantry entirely with volunteer labor to distribute food on Wednesdays and Saturdays.


The regional Food Bank also relies heavily on volunteers to sort food for delivery. 


WARM, or Wilmington Area Rebuilding Ministry, repairs, rebuilds, and makes accessible homes for low-income homeowners, many of whom are elderly, disabled, or veterans. 


The Cape Fear Literacy Council provides programs for adult learners and English as a second language, with training for all volunteers.


Canines for Service provides dogs for military veterans, therapy, and service programs.


Kids Making It teaches young people woodworking skills and provides both apprenticeship and skilled trades opportunities.  Volunteers with woodworking skills are always welcome.


Find your place to plug in, and in so doing, know you’re helping others and yourself in the good-deed-doing. 


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