Be sure to ask what rules the organization has to keep volunteers safe. For example, some require their volunteers to be fully vaccinated and masked. If you feel uncomfortable about indoor environments, you can choose to volunteer in well-ventilated, quiet places or outdoors.
Even during the height of the pandemic, Patricia Novy of Clark, NJ, 72, a retired art teacher and former Girl Scout leader, gathered former teachers, relatives and neighbors to fill Easter baskets and Christmas stockings for those who couldn’t afford them. They were distributed by Family Promise, an organization that helps low-income families with housing and other services.
“I was determined not to let that lockdown situation bring my mood down,” Ms Novy said.
The type of activity you choose is less important than whether you find it meaningful, said Ms. Walker, the author of “400 Friends and No One to Call.” In her 25 years as a rehabilitation counselor, primarily in Virginia and Maine, she has engaged her clients in volunteer activities to help them build confidence and develop social skills.
“They used volunteering as a bridge to help them reconnect with the community,” said Ms. Walker.
Some worked toward a political or environmental cause. Others were driven to share a passion, such as woodworking.
Also, think about the kind of environment you’d like to volunteer in and whether it will facilitate social interactions, Ms Walker said.
For example, helping out in a museum allows you to meet larger groups of people than if you were working one-on-one as a tutor, she added.
‘I have this very real goal now’
Some volunteers are driven to heal others – and themselves.
Robyn Houston-Bean, 52, said that when her 20-year-old son Nick died of an accidental overdose in 2015 after participating in a drug treatment program, she went from “a real go-getter who always does a million things” to sitting numb on the couch for months. .