From Books to Botanicals, San Mateo County Offers a Wealth of Volunteer Opportunities for Older Adults

volunteer opportunities older adults san mateo countyCarl took a deep breath and surveyed his surroundings with proud contentment. With dirt under his fingernails and the knees of his khakis stained green, he felt at home and accomplished in the formal gardens of Filoli. Finally, he had found a way to use his gifts again.

Since his partner, and gardening comrade, had passed away two years ago, Carl had struggled to enjoy his favorite hobby. He hadn’t even touched a spade since his loss until a friend suggested that he volunteer at the local botanical gardens. He was glad that he’d taken his friend up on that offer—the flower beds at home had become overgrown with weeds, but now he was motivated to restore his own garden to its former glory as well.

Volunteering is one avenue for aging adults to breathe new life into skills and passions that, for whatever reason, may have fallen into disuse. Combined with the chance for socialization, exciting events, and new companionship, these opportunities in San Mateo County may offer some of the most unique and meaningful ways for your loved one to spend their time.

San Mateo County Volunteer Opportunities for Older Adults

San Mateo County is packed with senior-specific volunteer opportunities so your loved one can engage in their community with like-minded people who share their interests. An abundance of volunteer positions are available in this area of the peninsula, so ask your loved one what they’d really enjoy doing with their time outside the home. Here are just a few of our favorite opportunities for older adults:

Peninsula Family Service

It’s rare that a volunteer opportunity specifically requests participants who are “55+ years young.” Peninsula Family Service offers a Volunteer Senior Peer Counselor program where your loved one can provide support and guidance to people in their own age group. This unique program is perfect for older adults who enjoy one-on-one socialization, are good listeners, and can engage compassionately with others. Volunteers with Peninsula Family Service can also participate in peer counseling specifically tailored for LGBTQ adults in the San Mateo community.

The program also offers free training and support for volunteers in the areas of counseling techniques, mental and physical health issues of older adults, and other important areas. No experience is necessary. And, your loved one can enjoy twice-monthly volunteer-only meetings that provide engaging group socializing experiences.

To become a volunteer, contact Valerie Snook via phone or email and mention that you are interested in the Volunteer Senior Peer Counselor program, or, you can also apply online via the Volunteer Senior Peer Counselor program page linked above. Free training occurs quarterly, so your loved one can take part in this opportunity year-round at their convenience.

Address: 24 2nd Ave, San Mateo, CA 94401

Phone: (650) 403-4300 ext. 4322

Email: vsnook@peninsulafamilyservice.org

Filoli Gardens

Volunteering at one of the most beautiful estates in the Bay Area is sure to bring a bright smile to your loved one’s face. If you and yours enjoy visiting botanical gardens, gardening at home, or admiring beautifully landscaped areas, you will likely find a good fit for your loved one at Filoli.

Filoli Gardens offers a diverse array of opportunities for volunteers including gardening, floral design, guiding and greeting visitors, administration, and more. Do note that the visitor season only runs February through October, meaning that the majority of volunteer opportunities will take place during the warmer spring and summer months. Becoming an active volunteer also comes with regular, volunteer-only events where your loved one can enjoy additional socialization and discounts at the Filoli Garden Shop.

In order to volunteer, consult the detailed opportunities list linked above before filling out an online volunteer application. Alternatively, you can apply via mail or in person during regular visiting hours. All volunteers are required to be members of the Friends of Filoli as well, however, if your loved one is a frequent garden visitor this may already be taken care of.

Address: 86 Cañada Road, Woodside, CA 94062

Phone: (650) 364-8300

Email: volunteer@filoli.org

The San Mateo County Library

Older adults often appreciate the life-giving properties of education and mentorship more than most. They’re happy to pass on their experiences to others, especially when that knowledge can be directly useful. There are few pursuits more rewarding than teaching literacy, particularly to adults who have the potential to gain new jobs and social mobility because of your work together.

By volunteering as an adult literacy tutor with the San Mateo County Library (at either the East Palo Alto or Half Moon location), your loved one can make a tangible difference in the lives of adult community members. No experience is necessary because free training and support will be provided every step of the way.

To volunteer, fill out an online application form, or visit the East Palo Alto Library to provide your contact information in person.

Address: 2415 University Avenue, East Palo Alto, CA 94303

Phone: (650) 323-0362 ext. 224

Email: arteaga_la_spina@smcl.org

The San Mateo County Historical Association

If your loved one is a county native, a history buff, or has strong pride for their home area, a volunteer position with the San Mateo County Historical Association may be just the right fit. The society’s incredibly active throughout the county, in various locations and involving many different job types, so this opportunity is perfect for older adults who might enjoy trying out a variety of volunteering experiences.

Currently, adult volunteers enjoy working as docents and tour guides in the museum and historical sites, working in the volunteer-operated bookstore, assisting with public events, updating the museum’s archives, and more. Because there are so many active positions to choose from, your loved one should easily be able to find a consistent shift that fits their schedule.

If you’re interested in volunteering, feel free to email indicating your interest. Alternatively, your loved one can print and fill out a paper volunteer interest application and submit it at any of the association’s locations.

Address: 2200 Broadway, Redwood City, CA 94063

Phone: (650) 299-0104 ext. 231

Email: volunteer@historysmc.org

The process of aging in place can be challenging, especially if your loved one’s social interaction has lessened over the years. But volunteering is an excellent way to ease this burden, and provides many reasons to enjoy life as an older adult. These volunteer opportunities give your San Mateo County loved one the unique chance to use their skills, meet new friends, and make a tangible difference in their community.

Interested in learning more about how aging adults can breathe new life into their later years? IOA has a wealth of resources focused on the health and wellness of older adults. Connect with us today.

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Institute on Aging

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