12 Dec 2016
Whether you’re an empty nester, recent retiree or beyond, this next act of your life presents an opportunity to get involved in your community. Fill your day and be fulfilled at the same time! Maybe you can even change the world. Westchester County is chock-full of outstanding non-profit organizations that need your help.
Here are a few of our favorites:
Guiding Eyes for the Blind
(Yorktown in Westchester and Patterson in Putnam County; photo showing Hugh and Woodrow)
If you’re a sucker for puppy love, check out the varied volunteer opportunities with Guiding Eyes for the Blind. This national organization, headquartered in Westchester, provides guide dogs to the visually impaired. According to Linda D’Amato, Director of the Puppy Program, there is a large contingency of active seniors who volunteer to work on-site, providing administrative assistance or helping to socialize the tiniest pups. Those up for a challenge can either take a puppy for the weekend, or become a puppy raiser, housing a dog for 15 months until they graduate the program. (GuidingEyes.org)
The Best Part: Since Guiding Eyes pays its puppy raisers for everything except food, the financial commitment is minimal. Yet the reward is tremendous as you and the puppies help provide greater independence for the visually impaired.
The Cuddler Program
Anyone who misses those days of cuddling a baby should consider becoming a professional cuddler! Volunteer cuddlers provide a loving set of arms for babies at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility for Women. The facility houses the oldest prison nursery in the country. Cuddlers volunteer once a week in the Infant Development Center, helping to feed, rock, and care for the babies (newborn to 18 months) of incarcerated mothers. While the majority of cuddlers are women, men are welcome to volunteer their services as well. (HourChildren.org)
The Best Part: Whether you already have grandchildren or are still patiently waiting, you can spend your time showering love on these precious little bundles of joy.
(Yonkers, Elmsford, Mount Vernon)
Wouldn’t it be great to give a child a gift that will educate, entertain and empower them all at the same time? You can – by helping a youngster learn to read. SMART (Students and Mature Adults Read Together) is an inter-generational program where adult volunteers visit local schools to read and mentor students who are reading below grade level. Run by the JCY – Westchester Community Partners, SMART gives you the training, so you can give kids the encouragement they need to read! (JCY-WCP.com)
The Best Part: With as few as one to two hours of volunteer time a week, you can change a child’s life!
Neuberger Museum Volunteer Docent Program
If your idea of the perfect afternoon is meandering through an art museum, you can nurture your inner art enthusiast as a docent at The Neuberger Museum. This local gem, housed on the campus of SUNY Purchase, has over 7,000 works of contemporary, modern, Latin American, and African art. According to Jessica Gildea, Associate Curator of Education, almost all of her vibrant docents are aged 55 and above! (Neuberger.org)
The Best Part: As a volunteer docent, you will participate in an artwork training course prior to your first tour. It’s like going back to college and taking an art history class – for free!
With all these great opportunities to volunteer, take the time to change the world and yourself!