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March 8, 2022


Hi there, 

I’m frantically trying to see all the Oscar-nominated films before this year’s awards ceremony because I’m hosting a watch party. Unfortunately, they’re not all streaming. This might have deterred me, but it was no impediment to my daughter, who downloaded a file-sharing app onto my Amazon Fire TV Stick when she visited. Is it legal? I have no idea. Old people aren’t expected to know these things. (There have got to be some advantages to old age.)

At the party, everyone will get a ballot to guess the winners, and I’ll be giving out—drumroll—an Oscar (Amazon variety) to whoever gets the most right. A Joan Rivers award—a copy of her book I Hate Everyone…Starting With Me—will go to the person with the snarkiest fashion commentary. I’m psyched that the awards will be back in person this year since the red carpet is my favorite part. I’m thinking of asking everyone to dress up, but at our age that could be a tall order. I’m serving popcorn, ice cream, and wine.

So far, my favorite film is Nightmare Alley, though Belfast is a close second. What’s yours? 

I’m Erica Manfred, Geezer Geek, Snarky Senior, and author of I’m Old so Why Aren’t I Wise? I moved to Florida alone in my trusty Ford Focus seven years ago from upstate New York and haven’t regretted it. I’ve always written about my life, and now that I’m old, aging and ageism are what I care about most. I’m writing this newsletter as part of the event platform Life Experienced. Each week, I’ll be exploring what matters to us later in life, from finding community to nuts-and-bolts stuff like figuring out our phones. I’ll also be interviewing inspiring seniors. Know someone we should feature? Email us at or join us on Facebook.  

Volunteering to help yourself


I’ve always felt guilty about not volunteering for the local food bank or other good causes. I avoid signing up because I hate being over-scheduled and worry about feeling obligated, especially if I’m not being paid. I run a number of Meetup book clubs and other groups, but I never used to consider that “volunteering.” I even pay for a Meetup membership to do so because I enjoy it. 

That made me realize that volunteering is whatever you want it to be. It’s your time, and you get to choose. What is clear is that volunteering will not only help others, but it will also help you by lessening depression, increasing optimism and sense of purpose in life, and counteracting loneliness. Volunteering only two hours a week is associated with a reduced risk of death in older adults.

The best volunteer opportunities will bring you into regular contact with like-minded potential friends. When we’re younger, we are thrown into proximity with the same people on a daily basis at school and then at work, and friendships develop organically. After retirement, that doesn’t happen as easily. Volunteering can bring you into contact regularly with people in a way that fosters connection and community.

But where to volunteer? That was the question that stumped me when I was considering a recurring volunteer gig. I didn’t want to sit at home alone and make calls and write postcards for a political campaign or put away books at the library. I wanted to be with people, especially after two years of isolation during the pandemic. I live in an area with a lot of retirees, and some volunteer opportunities are over-subscribed. If you're in the same boat, here are some ideas for volunteering that will help you spend time with people who share your interests.

  • Volunteer at an animal shelter. If you’re an animal lover this will bring you into regular contact with other local animal lovers, plus the staff of the shelter. And, of course, you’ll meet a lot of new furry friends. 
  • Offer to help out at a local cultural organization. Museums and theaters rely on volunteers to do a lot of unskilled work like ticket-taking, ushering, and a host of other tasks. If you love art, music, or theater, you’ll be sure to meet others who share your passion.
  • Get involved with a cause. Whether you are interested in saving the environment, helping the homeless, or improving education, you’ll meet others who have the same goals. Make sure the organization has actual events you can attend where you’ll get to know other volunteers. Some groups have charity sales or parties run by volunteers.
  • Canvass for local candidates. You’ll be partnered with another volunteer to go door-to-door and suffer the indignities of having doors slammed in your face together—a bonding experience. 😊 (I know: I went through it and made a friend.)
  • Join an organization’s board of directors. Whether it’s your HOA or the community theater, boards of directors are always in need of passionate and involved members. You’ll get to know the rest of the board and the organization’s members and be in a decision-making position.
  • Become a volunteer firefighter. Admittedly, this is not a choice for the faint of heart, but if you’re physically fit, it may be very rewarding. If you can’t assist with firefighting efforts, there are support positions as well. In either case, you will become part of a dedicated group that bonds in a way other groups don’t.
  • Volunteer at a hospital. The seniors at the reception desks in hospitals are often volunteers. It’s a great way to meet hospital staff and other volunteers.
  • Advocate for children as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) or guardian ad litem volunteer. You could save a child’s life. This is a cause close to my heart because I raised a foster child.

If you’re stumped for how to find potential volunteer opportunities, check out this article and these links:

Featured event


Cooking class: Healthier mac and cheese
Tuesday, March 15
7 - 8 p.m. ET

Few foods are equally loved by tots, teens, and grandparents—but if there’s one, it’s mac and cheese. Join Homemade for a free cooking class and learn how to make mac and cheese that’s better than Kraft and better for you.

Partner spotlight

Amava is a premium online learning platform. Our online classes are in real time and interactive, allowing you to easily engage with others in the class as well as the instructor. Amava's catalog of classes ranges from self-care to arts and crafts, hobbies, health and wellness, personal development, and more. We aim to bring people together to gain a skill, learn something new, keep their minds engaged, or just have fun! Our platform is a secure, ad-free place to learn and connect. Visit us here for more information.

What to read

A journalist friend, Toni Kamins, has a newsletter entitled The Medicare Reporter, which explains how Medicare news affects our lives. Her article last week about the potential privatization of Medicare is very scary, with information you should be aware of. The articles available so far are helpful and informative. Toni digs deep into Medicare policy, which few other reporters bother to do. Subscriptions are free—it’s worth signing up for. 

Become a partner

Does your organization reach a community of older adults? Get in touch with us for information on amplifying your events and activities on the platform and expanding the Life Experienced service to your network. There is no cost to partnering. Get in touch with us here:

That’s it! Thanks for reading. And if you want to chime in with your two cents on what this newsletter should include, email us at

Until next time, 

Events are more fun with friends

Life Experienced is a new service powered by Kaiser Permanente. Whether you're a dancer, a reader, or a gardener, we can help you find local events and activities that you'll love.

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