If you read Dixie’s last blog about volunteering, you’re probably full of ideas. One of the best ways to fulfill your desire to volunteer in retirement is to mentor a young person. You’d be surprised at the number of younger people who would benefit from your insights and your attention.
You might be able to mentor even before you retire. You’ve probably noticed in your workplace that there are fresh employees who seem a little like “deer in the headlights” when they first join your employer.
Instead of being a spectator to their discomfort and floundering, make yourself available as a “big brother or sister,” a mentor to gently relay information that will make their transition into the seduction of work a little easier.
Mentors Make a Difference
A good friend of mine, recently retired, became involved in her church women’s group. She had reached the pinnacle of her career by working hard and then working harder and harder still. The big recognition reward in her company in addition to salary was earning the coveted pink Cadillac. She notched 11 of them on her company belt while taking care of her husband and two children.
After retirement she attended a Bible study for herself which allowed her, in retrospect, to examine her life, to look closely at herself and to begin to understand “Sisterhood.” The “volunteer gig” part of her church relationship in retirement was to spend her time in the “Mom’s Session” with the young mothers to partner with them and validate the importance of the time they were spending with their children while sometimes yearning for the postponed professional life.
My friend’s greatest contribution to these young moms was to remind them how valuable was this time spent with their children and to remind them that this too would pass. There was ample time left for them to meet their career goals.
Another Story from the Real World
Jacquie lives next door to me. A bright, attractive woman in her 70’s with a ready smile and short curly hair, she’s always in a hurry – pedaling off on her bike to play tennis or do Tai Chi or play a round of golf. She loves retirement, but she has always found time in her busy life to mentor girls – first with Big Sisters and now with a faith-based program that prepares pregnant teen-aged girls to raise the babies they’ve decided to keep. Why does she mentor?
“I feel overwhelmingly blessed in my life, and I want to give back. I love the idea of changing two lives at once.”
Jacquie took the experience she gained while working her way up from a secretary to become a CEO of one of the divisions of SC Johnson and put that experience to work for girls who desperately need the skills she can share. She’s done everything from teaching reading to helping them pass their GED exams to working on etiquette for the workplace. Jacquie loves her girls. She helps them, and while she’s doing it, she helps their babies, but they help her, too.
Benefits of Mentoring
There’s plenty of research that supports the idea that the mentor in these relationships gains as much as she gives. Check out the results of this study.
“Volunteering activities have unique personal benefits. Older volunteers experience fewer health issues with advancing age and report diminishing symptoms for existing health conditions. The mental health benefits of volunteering also are well documented. Volunteering reduces feelings of depression among older adults.”
If you’re looking for a purpose-driven retirement, consider mentoring a young person.