How to volunteer at a senior center

Learn how you can volunteer at a senior center, and make a meaningful impact on older adults.

3 min read

As the senior population grows, there is a demand for volunteers at senior centers to offer companionship and assistance with various activities. Whether you are passionate about helping seniors exercise or simply spending time with them, there are various ways to get involved as a volunteer at senior centers.

You can start volunteering at a senior center by finding local senior centers with volunteering opportunities. Find volunteer opportunities that match your interests and skills. You can then contact the senior center via phone or email to ask about the specific volunteer roles they have and the requirements you must meet. You may be required to complete a formal application and pass background checks before you can start volunteering.

How to start volunteering at a senior center

If you are interested in volunteering at a senior center, the first step is to find local senior centers in your community. You can search online for local senior centers or get recommendations from friends and family. Once you have several options, you can research the services they offer, their mission, and the volunteer opportunities available.

Identify the skills and interests you bring to the senior center, and find volunteer opportunities in the local senior centers that match your interests. For example, you can find volunteer opportunities that involve exercises, dancing, or helping seniors with their daily tasks.

Once you identify a good volunteer role that matches your skills, you will need to submit a formal application and undergo a background check. Remember to indicate your personal information, skills, and your availability. Once your volunteer application is accepted, you will be required to attend an orientation session, where you will learn about your responsibilities and meet other staff working at the center.

After the orientation, you can commit to a few hours weekly to see if the role is a good fit. Once you are comfortable, you can take up more roles and commit more hours to the volunteer role.

Why do senior centers need volunteers?

Senior centers are often budget-constrained, making it a challenge to hire enough full-term employees. Hence, they may require temporary workers such as volunteers to provide certain essential services that their budgets cannot meet.

Volunteers bring unique skills and talents, which can help senior centers expand their program offerings. For example, younger volunteers can organize various activities like games, art classes, exercises, and essential skills training, which can help keep seniors active and reduce feelings of isolation.

Interactions between seniors and volunteers can foster a sense of community among seniors. Volunteers can provide one-on-one assistance to seniors, whether for emotional support or help with daily tasks. For example, they can remind seniors about medications or involve them in physical activities like walking and running.

Apart from helping seniors in their day-to-day routines, volunteers help with administrative tasks at the senior centers. They can help the center with record keeping, customer service, logistics, event management, and other administrative tasks, which allows the key staff to focus on the core activities of the center.

Volunteers play an important role in the running of senior centers. Apart from providing essential services that boost the quality of life of seniors, they also ensure the center runs smoothly by assisting with administrative roles.

What are the requirements for volunteering in a senior center?

The basic requirement you must meet as a volunteer is the desire to serve. However, several attributes can help volunteers succeed in their roles. They include:


Volunteering at a senior center requires the ability to demonstrate kindness, warmth, and understanding. Senior center residents may be struggling with various challenges that require volunteers to demonstrate empathy. In addition, you must understand how to interpret social cues and adjust communication to fit certain situations. 


Senior centers have residents with unique personalities, and volunteers need to be able to adapt to the residents' different personalities and perspectives. In addition, you need to be creative in engaging seniors and find ways to stimulate their interests.


You must figure out why you want to volunteer in the senior center and devote yourself to the cause. Sometimes, volunteering can be mentally draining, and interactions with seniors can be overwhelming. Hence, you must keep yourself mentally and physically replenished as you volunteer. 


While volunteering may not seem like a formal role, you must remain professional when handling seniors. For example, it is important to have respect and enforce dignity when volunteering at a senior center. In addition, remember to use courtesy titles during interactions and practice non-judgment. 

Do you need training to volunteer at a senior center?

Senior centers do not require professional certificates for volunteer roles. However, they provide orientation training for volunteers to serve effectively. The orientation training helps volunteers understand their responsibilities as well as know the organization’s policies, safety protocols, and disciplinary procedures.

In addition, volunteers who want to take on more intensive roles can request training from the facility. For example, training in dementia care can help a volunteer take on more roles in the senior center. Understanding issues such as end-of-life can also help volunteers handle such cases with empathy and professionalism. 

How to find volunteering opportunities

Here are some tips to help you find volunteering opportunities at local senior centers.

Reach out to senior centers

Directly contact the local senior centers in your area to see if they have any volunteering opportunities. This is an easy way to find out if the senior center has available opportunities that match your skills or interests.

Leverage on your network

You can leverage your network to get referrals to volunteer opportunities at senior centers. Get the word out to your friends, family members, and community groups, who may know senior centers seeking volunteers.

Online platforms

Another way to find great volunteer opportunities is by using online platforms. For example, VolunteerMatch is a useful platform that can help you identify volunteer opportunities in your local community. In addition, you can leverage social platforms with senior center information. You can also visit senior center websites and search for volunteer opportunities. 

Participate in volunteer fairs

Volunteer fairs bring together non-profit organizations like senior centers, and they can be good avenues to explore volunteer opportunities. These fairs allow organizations to showcase their programs to the community, and promote their volunteer opportunities.

Individuals looking for volunteer opportunities can meet representatives of senior centers and other non-profit organizations to learn about their programs and ask questions about the volunteer opportunities.