Today’s retirees are healthier, better educated and more diverse than previous generations. As a group, they want to channel their hobbies, interests, professional skills and personal experiences into unique volunteer experiences that serve a meaningful purpose. They view retirement as an “encore,” a time to give back and leave a lasting social impact. Further, serving others helps each of us to be purposeful, stay engaged, keep active and stay connected. At the Department of Aging, we support several opportunities for older volunteers: Volunteer Ombudsman Associates - Ombudsman Associates are one of the most valued resources of the Office of the State Long-term Care Ombudsman . They are volunteer advocates who provide a voice for the concerns of long-term care consumers who are living in their own homes, nursing homes or assisted living. Volunteers make regular visits, observe conditions and engage residents in conversation to learn about problems or concerns consumers may have regarding care and services. To learn more, contact the State Ombudsman at 1-800-282-1206 or OhioOmbudsman@age.ohio.gov. Volunteer Lay Leaders – The HEALTHY U Ohio and STEADY U Ohio initiatives rely on volunteer instructors to conduct workshops about chronic disease self-management, falls prevention and more . You don’t have to be an expert in these topics, you just need to be comfortable in working with a small group and leading discussions, as well as have a desire to be healthier and, in the process, help others live happier, healthier lives, too. Contact your area agency on aging at 1-866-243-5678 to learn about lay leader opportunities in your community. OSHIIP Volunteers – The Ohio Senior Health Insurance Information Program (OSHIIP) provides Medicare beneficiaries with free, objective health insurance information and one-on-one counseling to help them get the most out of their available benefits. OSHIIP volunteers learn Medicare basics and then help others in their community understand and navigate the often-confusing world of health insurance. Learn more by contacting the Ohio Department of Insurance at 1-800-686-1578 or email@example.com. GIVE back. GO forward. – The Ohio Department of Higher Education has teamed with state and local partners to give older volunteers a unique opportunity to earn college tuition credits through their volunteer service in the community. Volunteers age 60 and older who contribute at least 100 hours per year at participating local non-profit organizations can earn a three-credit-hour tuition waiver from a participating university or community college. Volunteers can use the waiver themselves or donate it to another Ohio resident. Participating schools are Youngstown State University, Eastern Gateway Community College, The Ohio State University and Bowling Green State University. To learn more, contact a participating institution or visit www.ohiohighered.org/GBGF . Senior Corps – The Department of Aging partners with the Corporation for National and Community Service to provide three nationally sponsored volunteer opportunities through the Senior Corps program. RSVP matches the personal interests and skills of older volunteers with opportunities at nonprofit organizations to address community issues. Foster Grandparents mentor children and young people who are victims of abuse and neglect. Senior Companions assist other elders in their communities who have difficulty with simple tasks of day-to-day living. Learn more at www.serveohio.org or by calling (614) 728-2916. There are many more opportunities to give of your time and talents in your community. Whatever your interests, there's probably an organization eager for your help. Contact your local area area agency on aging , senior center or community action agency to learn about available opportunities. What will your encore look like?