Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

When I worked I was everybody’s go-to confidante. I’ve been retired
for six months and my life feels very empty. I know my stories but I
miss being involved with other people. I definitely don’t want to work
again, but I miss the camaraderie of shared enterprise, the
competition and the challenge, but mostly the sense that I am on a
team and that people value and rely on me. What’s the best way to
get that back, if I’m willing to invest ten hours a week, not forty?


Dear Benched:

Virtually every community newspaper runs a column called some
variation of Volunteer Opportunities where the non-profits in the area
run enticing little summaries of the chances to do good and help out
fellow citizens. My guess is that if you look there or google non-profit
+ the name of your city, you will find a range of places that would
welcome your ten hours a week, or even five, and that would afford
you a chance to do everything from help in animal rescue to food prep
for the homeless. You’d be working along side other volunteers, retired
and not, and have a chance to engage with them in improving your
hometown. You could also volunteer your skills at the city’s senior
centers, where there’s always classes in everything from crocheting to
tax assistance. Whatever you are good at, someone else wants to
learn to do better.

If you prefer the intimacy of one-on- one contact, visit the care
coordinators of the various live-in retirement centers. Virtually every
one will have seniors older and needier than you whose children or
other relatives live far away and who are lonely. You can drop in or
give them excursion treats, to a concert or even take them shopping
at the mall. You’ll have to provide some bone fides so the folks in
charge don’t think you are some kind of predator. But once you
establish relationships you will discover a world of need that’s waiting
for your time and attention. Regardless of where you choose to help,
the more you give, the more you will receive.