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By our sheer numbers and interests, Baby Boomers are destined to change retirement forever. Many of us will continue to work; others will "downshift" or move to the Sun Belt. Find help with your dream here.
Enjoy a FREE Retirement

When someone says free, people listen. So, think about exchanging workplace skills in a multigenerational, multicultural community for free room and board! My only income is Social Security, but I have traveled to Alaska, Florida, Arkansas and New Mexico, stayed for months enjoying the culture, events, and camaraderie of those who know the territory.

How? In retirement, I have become a long-term, long-distance volunteer. Yes, I have a work schedule but, in communication with a Volunteer Coordinator, I chose my hours and responsibilities. Some organizations actually supplement their staff with volunteers in education, library, maintenance, and gardening, to name a few. Volunteering while retired is a balance of finances and compassion. Granted, no income, but our expenses can be minimal, since food and housing are payment for your work skills.

In the past six years I have kayaked Crystal Bay, Sitka, AK; hiked and canoed the Buffalo River in Arkansas, sloshed through the Everglades in Florida, and eaten blue-corn pancakes at Sky City near Albuquerque. Also, while acting as Administrative Assistant to the Head of Menaul School, Albuquerque, NM, I interacted with students from the pueblos, observing their Native American culture first-hand. Springtime in Arkansas brought baby lambs and goats. Have you ever bottle-fed a baby goat?

Volunteering while retired offers options, suggesting the reality of travel, free housing, and sharing of skills within a community of likewise talented, and energetic coworkers. You can live your retirement dreams while actively contributing to the greater good. It is also an option for college grads -- or those completing a college career -- since they can work for an organization, accumulating skills to add to a resume while contacting prospective employers. And they’re not living at home with Mom & Dad!

Benefits abound. On weekends and evenings, there are lectures to attend and mountain switch-backs to investigate. I keep my skills current while performing my duties of receptionist, administrative assistant, or “weeder of the butterfly garden”. Got my exercise on-the-job doing that! And, because I have Silver Sneakers within my health care plan, I can pop into a gym in the area for free. There’s that word again! Due to healthier practices and longevity, we mature adults have lots of hours to fill with creative adventures.

Those I have met through this word-of-mouth volunteer network are diverse, energetic, capable and passionate. They live their life and dreams to the fullest, despite financial or physical limitations. On my travels, so many asked “How can I do what you do?” that I wrote a book: Second Career Volunteer, a passionate, pennywise approach to retirement.

With the recent recession plus thousands of energetic Boomers on the horizon, options are needed to fill those “mystery” years stretching into our future. My volunteer lifestyle is unique and free - a win-win!

By Barbara M. Traynor

Editor's Note: Barbara's email is volinretirement@yahoo.com. For more information, visit www.secondcareervolunteer.com

Her book: Second Career Volunteer, a passionate, pennywise approach to retirement is available at Amazon.com or through Google Ebooks.

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