Home Schools Rewire, Don’t Retire: Volunteer Professionally

Rewire, Don’t Retire: Volunteer Professionally

by Heidi Katz
written by
Claire and Heidi with the other Met guides.

Instead of retiring from our careers as speech-language pathologists, my friend Claire Gilgannon and I decided to look for volunteer positions incorporating our skills as SLPs. That’s how we met. And here’s how we went about volunteering.

For both of us, our love of New York City combined with our interest in art led us to volunteer at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. We took a chance and YES! We still could learn a new skill even after 30-odd years of being SLPs!

Volunteer training at The Met is intense, but over about 18 months we successfully transitioned, almost without even being aware, into our new roles as tour guides for school groups with special needs. We had been in the speech biz so long that those skills were reflexive, and we naturally integrated them into our new roles.

Two experienced SLPs use their skills at promoting inclusion to lead tours for special education students at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

So don’t be afraid to try your hand at something new. Museums love volunteers, and if you like children of any age then you, too, can be a volunteer and pair your love of speech-language pathology with your interest in art, history, science or just about anything. We’ve made a new group of good friends and realize that we can still have teachable moments and continue to be lifelong learners. If your interests lie more with performing arts, theaters also look for dedicated volunteers, and our skills as SLPs parlay into many different communication formats.

The following is a sampling—and by no means a comprehensive list—of museums and theaters offering training to become a volunteer guide. Many also offer programs for visitors with special needs and would appreciate your skills even more.

Do you volunteer or know of organizations looking for volunteers that you think fit the skills of audiologists or SLPs? Please share in the comment section below!

Heidi Katz, MA, CCC-SLP,  is a co-captain with Claire Gilgannon, MS, CCC-SLP, of the Special Education Services School Groups, Metropolitan Museum of Art. heidikatz1@gmail.com

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1 comment

Cheryl Berg Horn, M.S. CCC-SLP August 8, 2018 - 12:23 pm

Thank you for sharing this insightful article on how our professional experience can be beneficial in retirement. I have always felt our training and experience working with people with special needs has developed special abilities in us! Retired SLPs volunteering as tour guides in museums for groups of special needs students is a perfect fit and sounds like fun to me!

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