By REBECCA PIRTLE
As the Baby Boomer generation increasingly moves into retirement, its members bring with them a concentration of diverse and transferable professional skills they can leverage toward causes they care about.
Volunteering provides boomers the opportunity to develop new perspectives on aging and civic engagement, pursue interests that they may not have had time to do previously, and stay intellectually and physically engaged in community activities. Their new roles provide challenging and meaningful experiences that positively impact the community.
For organizations that rely on volunteers, such as Kitsap County, this surge of motivated, flexible and well-educated people looking to apply the skills and knowledge acquired over a lifetime to help others is a wealth of resources. Kitsap County Volunteer Services coordinates with county departments to provide opportunities for thousands of people each year who generously invest their time, energy, skills and talent to improve and extend county services, contribute to the cost effectiveness of government operations and make Kitsap County a better place to live for all its citizens.
Here is a brief listing of some of the current opportunities available. Many more can be found on the Kitsap County website at www.kitsapgov.com/volunteer, or for help in paring down a good fit for your lifestyle, contact Volunteer Services directly at 360-337-4650, email@example.com.
Citizens on Patrol and Community Resource Volunteers: Working with the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office, volunteers are offered training that readies them to educate and interact with the public, and serve as the eyes and ears of law enforcement. They assist with traffic control, handicap parking enforcement, vacation checks and neighborhood watch programs.
Juvenile Department: Volunteers speak up for abused and neglected children within the court system, serve on citizen advisory boards, work as mentors, assist probation officers, help troubled youth find alternatives to court hearings and more.
Long-Term Care Ombudsmen: Volunteers serve as advocates for residents of nursing homes, assisted-living facilities and adult family homes to ensure a high quality of care and respect. Ombudsmen regularly visit facilities, investigating and resolving concerns of residents by working with families and facility staff.
State Health Insurance Benefits Advisors: Volunteers are trained through the Washington state Office of the Insurance Commissioner to educate, assist and advocate for consumers about their rights and options with health care benefits and insurance so they can make informed decisions and navigate new regulations.
Naturalists and Parks Stewards: The thousands of acres of Kitsap County parkland — and the forests, shorelines, streams and user groups that inhabit them — rely on volunteers to help maintain and improve amenities. Volunteers are welcome to drop in for one-day work parties, join in longer-term planning and projects or enroll in classes to get educated and then serve as educators, naturalists and monitors of the environment. Visit the Parks and Recreation web site at www.kitsapgov.com/parks/ to learn more.
For more information on the popular Master Gardeners, Beach Watchers, Stream Stewards, Beach Naturalists and 4-H Leaders, go to the county’s Western State University Extension Office site at http://county.wsu.edu/kitsap/Pages/default.aspx.
Emergency responders: The Kitsap Department of Emergency Management is supported by over 500 volunteers who can be mobilized in the event of disaster. Serving as ham radio operators, in a search-and-rescue capacity, as public information officers, emergency preparedness educators, severe weather shelter volunteers or critical incident responders, citizens play a vital role in preparing for, responding to and recovering from emergencies and disasters. For more information, visit www.kitsapdem.org.
Boards, Commissions and Councils: Citizens of all ages and backgrounds have the opportunity to participate in and promote effective, efficient local government, and serve as a sounding board for county staff, commissioners and the public by participating on more than 30 advisory boards, commissions and councils. Open seats are regularly posted on the Volunteer Services web site, where more information each advisory group may be found.
Beyond county departments
United Way of Kitsap County maintains a listing of volunteer opportunities available at other non-profit organizations, and many more to meet a variety of interests are posted on the United Way of Kitsap County website, where non-profit organizations throughout the county list options for volunteers. Go to www.unitedwaykitsap.org/volunteer.html or call 360-377-8505 for more information.
Retired Senior Volunteer Program of Lutheran Community Services Northwest (RSVP), with an office located in Bremerton, offers those 55 years and older a variety of opportunities from gardening, tutoring and serving the homeless to welcoming new military families. Volunteers serve through non-profit private and public community organizations countywide. For more information, call at 360-377-5511 or 800-378-5771.
Contact Kitsap County Volunteer Services Coordinator Rebecca Pirtle at 360-337-4650 or firstname.lastname@example.org to find a volunteer position that’s right for you. More information on Kitsap County programs listed above and online applications are available at www.kitsapgov.com/volunteer.