Volunteer Opportunities at Wyndemere Keep Seniors Active and Engaged

Best Volunteering Opportunities for Seniors

One of the most dynamic ways for seniors to stay active and involved is to spend time volunteering. When older adults lend a hand, they have the opportunity to help others, maintain a sense of purpose, and stay connected with other volunteers and the community they’re helping.

At Wyndemere, a senior living community in Wheaton, Illinois, volunteering happens both on and off campus. The staff taps into areas of skill and talent as well as supports residents who want to try their hand at something new or out of their comfort zone, helping them find the best volunteering opportunities for seniors.

Top 3 Benefits of Volunteering in Retirement

Retirement opens doors to new possibilities, and volunteering stands out as a rewarding avenue with multiple benefits for seniors.


1. Enhanced Well-Being

Volunteering instills a sense of purpose, combating isolation and fostering positive mental and emotional well-being. Social interaction and community engagement contribute to a more active and fulfilling lifestyle.


2. Improved Physical Health

Contrary to a sedentary retirement, many volunteer opportunities involve physical activity, promoting cardiovascular health, enhanced mobility, and a reduced risk of chronic diseases.


3. Continuous Learning and Skill Enhancement

Volunteering exposes seniors to new experiences, challenges and the opportunity to acquire new life skills. This continuous engagement supports cognitive health, reducing the risk of cognitive decline and keeping the mind sharp.

In essence, volunteering in retirement becomes a holistic approach to health, personal growth, and purposeful living, showcasing that the golden years can be truly enriching.

“I would have to say that while volunteering benefits seniors cognitively, physically, and in so many ways, the biggest benefit is it gives them a purpose,” said Kelly Berger-Valadez, Director of Activities at Wyndemere. “They have skills and talents that they haven’t used for years. Once you tap into them … it’s amazing to watch.”

Senior Volunteer Opportunities

If you’re interested in learning about national volunteering opportunities to help you get involved with a larger volunteering network, these organizations are a great place to start:

Meals on Wheels

Delivering meals to homebound individuals not only ensures they receive essential nutrition but also allows you to stay active and engaged in your community. It’s a chance to bring smiles and much-needed human connection to those who may be isolated.

Tutor or Mentor at Local Schools

Sharing your knowledge and life experiences as a tutor or mentor can make a significant impact on young minds. It provides an opportunity to stay mentally active, fosters connections, and contributes to the educational development of future generations.

Hospital Volunteering

Volunteering at a hospital allows you to give back to the community in a meaningful way. Whether assisting patients, helping with administrative tasks, or providing comfort through conversation, you become a crucial part of the healthcare support system while staying connected and purposeful.

Senior Companionship Program

Being a companion to fellow seniors who may be isolated or lonely is a rewarding way to build connections and combat feelings of solitude. Your presence can bring joy, friendship, and emotional support to those who may be going through challenging times.

Foster Grandparent Program

Volunteering in a foster grandparent program offers seniors a meaningful opportunity to share their wisdom, life experiences, and love with young individuals who may benefit greatly from their guidance. Beyond the positive impact on the children’s lives, participating in such programs provides seniors with a sense of purpose, community connection, and the joy that comes from making a difference in the lives of the younger generation.

Environmental Conservation Projects

Engaging in environmental projects, such as local community clean-ups or gardening, not only contributes to a healthier planet but also offers a chance to enjoy the outdoors and maintain physical activity. It’s an opportunity to make a positive impact on the environment while staying fit and socially connected.

Volunteering at Wyndemere

“After residents settle in, our Activities staff conducts one-on-one sessions to identify their interests. We ask them ‘What do you like to do? Is there anything you’re willing to share or teach,’” said Kelly. Residents can join one of the ten resident-run committees, ranging from art to library initiatives.

  • A retired couple, both passionate about art, teaches watercolor painting to residents and external participants twice a week.
  • The library committee organizes book donations, cataloging and distributing them.
  • The Windy Bar committee, the largest, independently manages a resident-run happy hour with 20 volunteers.
  • The second-largest, the Activities committee oversees various subcommittees with 15–20 volunteers.

A unique group has emerged from the memory care wing, where residents and volunteers engage in heartwarming Activities.

According to Kelly, volunteers regularly sing, host tea parties, and provide companionship.

Notably, two volunteers, both nurturing individuals, have become instrumental in creating meaningful experiences for memory care residents, from crafting to organizing special events like Valentine’s Day celebrations.

Their passion extends beyond memory care, as they also organize gatherings for independent living residents facing loneliness or loss. Kelly describes their impact as transformative, emphasizing the positive ripple effect across the entire Wyndemere community.

“They’ve come together to help residents who may have lost a spouse or live alone. They’ll have these little get-togethers in their apartment homes, with snacks, and they’ll put together questions and topics for residents to talk about,” shared Kelly.

“It’s really cool to see. They have found their purpose and just blossomed! It’s also very beneficial to the community—they are doing this service that is great for the entire campus.”

Helping in the Surrounding Community

Wyndemere residents extend their impact beyond the campus, with a notable history of volunteering at Northwestern University, contributing significantly to the creation and support of the nearby Ronald McDonald House.

Additionally, residents actively engage with the People’s Resource Center, offering assistance to those seeking short-term housing and food pantry services. Some residents are involved with DuPage County PADS, functioning as a Stephen Minister, providing vital listening and support to individuals in a local homeless shelter. Another group dedicates their time to DuPage County Hospital, offering assistance with patient transport, working in the gift shop, and providing general support as needed.

How To Get Started Volunteering as an Older Adult


1. Discover Passions and Skills

Identifying your passions and skills is the cornerstone of a fulfilling volunteering experience. Take time to reflect on what truly interests you and aligns with your abilities. Whether it’s leveraging professional expertise, hobbies, or personal interests, finding that intersection will ensure that your volunteer work is not only impactful but also personally rewarding.

2. Explore Local Opportunities

Dive into the rich tapestry of volunteer opportunities within your community. Conduct thorough research on various programs and initiatives, reaching out to local organizations to explore potential matches. Connecting with community needs allows you to tailor your volunteering experience to make a meaningful impact close to home.

3. Consider Time Commitment

Assessing your availability is crucial in ensuring a sustainable and enjoyable volunteering experience. Consider your daily or weekly schedule, and start with a manageable time commitment. Many volunteer programs offer flexibility, allowing you to contribute meaningfully without overwhelming your existing commitments.

4. Begin Small, and Expand Later

Starting with a modest commitment or engaging in short-term projects serves as a pragmatic approach to entering the world of volunteering. This allows you to test the waters, discover what resonates with you, and find a comfortable fit before considering an expanded or more long-term involvement. It’s a journey of exploration and gradual integration into the volunteering landscape.

5. Explore Senior-Specific Programs

For older adults seeking to volunteer, exploring programs specifically designed for seniors is an excellent option. These programs often provide a supportive and understanding environment, recognizing the unique skills and experiences that older individuals bring to the table. Such tailored opportunities foster a sense of community among retirees, making the volunteering experience both enjoyable and fulfilling.

Volunteering and Leading an Engaged Life at Wyndemere

For seniors who want  independence with lots of choice and flexibility, Wyndemere in Wheaton, Illinois, just outside of Chicago, is a community to consider.

As a Life Plan Community offering various care levels, including independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing, memory care, and rehabilitation Wyndemere facilitates a seamless transition for seniors as their health needs change. Residents find a unique culture that covers all areas of life, from fitness and nutrition to activities and wellness, with the comfort of knowing their future is secure.

To find out how you can become an active part of Wyndemere’s senior living community, get in touch with us at 630-755-5006.