What's your bag? Volunteering or part-time employment?

There are many options if retirement isn't what you expected.

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If retirement isn't all you'd thought it would be, maybe working part-time or volunteering would fill the gap. For some, retirement isn't the experience envisioned, there's potentially no routine and fewer social contacts.

If that's the case, it's up to you to create a more positive situation with a better routine and balanced social contacts. Finding a part-time job is a solution for some. Volunteering is another possibility as you can get more involved and help others at the same time. The time and talents of volunteers are utilized by many organizations in the area.

Think about the things you're interested in, maybe there's a group that could benefit from your help. Plenty of organizations operate with the help of volunteers. Think about what you enjoy doing, consider your likes and dislikes and things you care about. For example, if you love animals, maybe volunteering at the Blue Mountain Humane Society, BMHS, would be a good match.

Former Coordinator of Volunteers and Humane Education, Christina Kinney said volunteers help them immeasurably. "One older volunteer works 60 hours a week. She's amazing."

According to Kinney, it's important to find the best fit for the volunteer. A small, fragile senior probably isn't going to be suited for large, energetic animals, so kitties or small dogs might be a better match.

"We have new volunteer orientation on the first and third Wednesday each month," She suggests attending the 5 p.m. session to find the right place to help. Kinney said training covers policies and procedures, then there's an in-depth tour of the facility. The information session is the first step in volunteering. If it's a match, the next step is one-on-one with a mentor.

If a volunteer has questions, there's plenty of help available. "Any of the staff is willing to answer questions and they're very friendly. We could definitely use more volunteers."

BMHS Coordinator of Volunteers and Humane Education Danielle Orchard agreed with Kinney and added that volunteers of all ages are welcome. "Volunteers can come and socialize with the cats and small dogs." Some of the things volunteers can do: take small dogs for walks and just socialize with them, also cleaning and maintenance at the shelter. "We want a clean and healthy environment for animals. Volunteers can work at the front desk and take pictures of animals for our Website." She also encouraged those interested to attend the orientation sessions to find out more about the shelter and volunteer opportunities.

If you love history, there's several museums in the area that also rely on the talents and dedication of volunteers.

Operations Manager at Fort Walla Walla Museum, Don Locati said, "We always need volunteers. We need docents, greeters, grounds people, help in collections. There's plenty of different areas involved and they can choose the days they prefer, mornings or afternoons. They have the opportunity to do all kinds of things."

According to Locati, a volunteer could help with any of the Museum's annual events, do maintenance such as vacuuming in the new building and even "dusting the mules" in one large exhibit.

While the help benefits the organization, Locati said, "It's also vital to the individual. Life is more than just sitting at home watching T.V. If they sit at home doing nothing, they won't last. And our nation needs volunteers; they make the community."

Jennifer Northam, Events and PR Manager, Downtown Walla Walla Foundation, agreed with Locati that more volunteers are always welcome and added the foundation also offers plenty of flexibility and variety. Long term or just an hour or so. Opportunities include committees and special events. "For clean up day we utilize tons of volunteers in a day, sweeping and weeding."

Another opportunity to volunteer is with the Walla Walla Valley Farmers Market, according to Executive Director Aimee McGuire. Volunteers can do a variety of things to help out.

Variety is also available with the Alzheimer's Association-Inland Northwest Chapter, said Southeast Washington Outreach Coordinator Debbi Pierce.

If you want an assortment of volunteer possibilities, check out the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program at the Center at the Park. RSVP Director Edie Smith said there's plenty of choices available. The organization partners with many different agencies in the area, so there's plenty of new opportunities.

Karlene Ponti can be reached by calling 509-526-8324 or by e-mail at karleneponti@wwub.com.

For more details

RSVP, 509-527-3775

Blue Mountain Humane Society, 509-529-5188

Fort Walla Walla Museum, 509-525-7703

Downtown Walla Walla Foundation, 509-529-8755

Alzheimer’s Association-Inland Northwest Chapter, 509-713-3390

Walla Walla Valley Farmers Market, 509-520-3647

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