No Need to Hibernate This Winter!
Although winter weather can make it difficult to get out and about in some parts of the country, if you have a plan in place, you’re more likely to follow through.
Sticking with small group activities can help you stay safe and well, and still allow for socializing. Make sure you’re comfortable with the arrangements for any activity so you can truly enjoy your time with others.
Have Fun With Your Community
Chances are that a place of worship or local community center has a multipurpose or meeting room that could serve as a gathering place for small events over the winter. Depending on the facilities available, consider organizing a “tailgate” party for the big game, a Valentine’s Day celebration, Mardi Gras or St. Patrick’s Day festivities, or other non-holiday related fun.
Make it a potluck affair, where guests contribute food and drink to share. Add some simple decorations, music, and games or activities for the group, and you’ll have a small party planned in no time at all.
Remember to practice social distancing while socializing or getting food and organize seating arrangements so that everyone can keep a comfortable distance. Encourage your guests to wear masks when not eating or drinking and be sure to comply with any other health and safety measures that your gathering space or local community may have in place or require.
Tell Me a Story
If you live close to an elementary school, one of the most popular volunteer opportunities available is “storytelling time.” These days, most school volunteer activities happen online, and there are plenty of opportunities to read to young students online or to provide virtual help with schoolwork. Many schools list their volunteer opportunities on their website, or you could call your local school district for a list of schools looking for help. Chances are, you’ll learn a thing or two from the students you meet, and they can certainly learn from you.
Share Your Gifts
Nonprofit groups are generally operating on a shoestring budget and are always in need of volunteers to field phone calls, organize and assemble mailings, and help with all sorts of administrative tasks. Both in-person and virtual volunteer opportunities are possible. If you enjoy sharing skills you acquired during your career, many nonprofits will be more than happy to accept help with business plans, writing and editing, database management, website maintenance, and more.
If you’re not already involved with a nonprofit or volunteer organization, look for one whose mission you support to make the best match. If you’re passionate about hunger issues, your local food bank may be a good fit. If you’re concerned about homelessness, there are lots of groups devoted to affordable housing that need help with letter writing and lobbying. If you’re interested in serving a specific population like children or seniors, there’s undoubtedly a volunteer opportunity with your name on it.
Not sure how to get started? AARP has all sorts of volunteer opportunities with their organization. They also have information about volunteer opportunities — both in-person and virtual — that you can participate in close to home.
Bottom line: Keeping busy at any time of year — doing something you truly enjoy — is a great way to strengthen your community, stay social, and gain opportunities to make new friends and acquaintances in all aspects of your life.