September 20, 2014 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Did you watch more than an hour of the Weather Channel today? Do you put less than 25 miles on your car in any given week? Do you approach crossword puzzles with such confidence—and frequency—that you dare to solve them in ink?

There’s no reason that senior living can’t be active living. And there’s no better solution to “stir crazy” than to get out there and volunteer.

Ann Hosford is a seasoned volunteer who serves on the board of the Omaha Parks Foundation. She was a founding member of the Girls Club (now Girls Inc.) and has previously served on the boards of Fontenelle Forest and Community Alliance, among others. We checked in with Hosford for her Top Five tips on how to live a richer and more rewarding life through volunteering.

Keep it Local

Volunteering can begin at your front door. “Join your neighborhood association,” says Hosford, previously the multi-term president of the Metcalfe-Harrison Neighborhood Association. “That’s a great and easy place to start. What better way to build stronger communities than with your neighbors?”

Matchmaking

There’s a nonprofit out there that speaks to almost any interest. The key is to find something that fits your passions and personality, says Hosford. “Are you, for example, really into gardening, but you live in an apartment? There’s plenty of volunteer opportunities for people who think green,” or any other color.

Go Small

Don’t overlook new or smallish nonprofits. “I made perhaps some of my most impactful contributions,” Hosford says, “when I served on the board of the [smallish nonprofit] Omaha Hearing School. Smaller groups need just about everything in terms of support. Your work there in any role you play can really make a difference.”

A Family Affair

“I started volunteering when I was young and my mother was volunteering,” Hosford says. Include your children and grandkids in the great tradition of helping others. “It’s great modeling behavior. And volunteers always have such great stories to tell.” Those stories are even better when such shared experiences serve to add deeper and more meaningful levels of family connectedness.

Two’s Company

Are you a little shy? Can new people, places, and experiences be a little intimidating? “Use the buddy system,” Hosford advises. “Volunteer with a friend. You’ll
have a great time!”

Act Today!

Need more ideas to stir your imagination? The United Way of the Midlands maintains an online directory with scores of volunteer opportunities. Check out the “Volunteer” tab at unitedwaymidlands.org.

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