Archive for Monday, November 9, 2015

Retirees find volunteer opportunities through city and county

November 9, 2015

Retirees who still want to sharpen their professional skills and pursue their favorite hobbies have numerous avenues of finding volunteer opportunities in Shawnee and in the county.

Elizabeth Griffith is the city of Shawnee’s volunteer coordinator and said that of the 100 volunteers registered through the city’s volunteer program, 17 of them are older than 65. She said this number doesn’t account for all of the volunteers, no matter the age, who volunteer at city events and other things without registering through the city.

The city’s volunteer program is a way for people to express their interest to work on an ongoing basis. Griffith said these people are able to express their specific interests and talents and are matched to roles that fit their needs.

Griffith said that volunteers fill office roles based on their skills. Some work in specific departments like the Shawnee police department and some fill more general needs as they come up in certain departments such as document creation, scanning and data entry.

Griffith said many volunteers have excelled in the city using their skills and have taken more full-time positions. The city uses a volunteer photographer who has been able to take a passion and turn it into a way to give back to Shawnee. Griffith described other volunteers who have taken leadership roles in volunteer groups in the areas of engineering, nursing and business relations.

“We can find roles for anyone,” Griffith said. “If we have a good match for them, we’ll do that. If we don’t, we can reach out to other agencies to find that match.”

Mayor Michelle Distler works a lot with the city’s volunteers as she herself dedicates many hours to volunteering in the city. Last year, she spent more than 400 hours volunteering. She said she has seen many volunteers find opportunities through the city to do something that they enjoy and have a passion about.

“It gives them something to keep their skill set sharp and it’s something they love,” Distler said.

There are also volunteer opportunities for recent retirees and people of all ages through the Shawnee Town 1929 museum. Volunteers work as living history interpreters, do data entry and other tasks like sewing. Other volunteers work at the museums numerous events throughout the year by volunteering as photographers, decorators and storytellers.

Heather Gilpin, volunteer coordinator for Shawnee Town 1929, said the museum has approximately 225 active volunteers and about 22 of them are older than 65 years old.

People looking to volunteer for the city or museum can contact either by visiting their respective websites, cityofshawnee.org and shawneetown.org, or by calling 913-742-6244.

Retirees seeking volunteer opportunities can also volunteer at private organizations throughout the area like hospice houses and retirement homes. Johnson County is also doing its part to connect people to those additional opportunities.

The county, through it’s volunteer program, connects people to opportunities on various boards and commissions, the county citizen’s academy, community garden, election office, libraries, museums, special needs programs, corrections department, District Attorney’s Office and human services. There are also opportunities through the Kansas State University Extension Office and the county parks and recreation division.

These various programs and their contact information can be found at Jocogov.org or by calling 913-715-5000.

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