The early Baby Boomer generation is well into retirement and thousands more are joining them every day. We hear so much about how the Baby Boomers will bankrupt Social Security, overwhelm the medical industry, and increase the demand for long term care. I want to bring to light a positive note about this generation that includes my parents. Baby Boomers are generally in better health upon retirement, have a variety of skills, and many are looking for opportunities to volunteer. As organizations, we should be ready to welcome retirees into our volunteer base and tailor opportunities to fulfill their interests.
My grandma, who passed away last year, was a lifelong social citizen. She was active in her community, volunteered to help those in need, and was the Chair of the Historical Society in her town until her early nineties. When my siblings and I would visit, she was always attending meetings or volunteering with the Grange, Women’s Club, the church, or a myriad of other causes for good. In fact, when I was in high school, she told us she was going to go back to work for a vacation because she was always busy in her community.
She was not alone. Many retirees, equipped with a valuable skillset after a long career, have extra time to give, and are interested and willing to volunteer for causes they could not engage in while working or raising a family. Of those who have volunteered for me, retirees are some of the most knowledgeable, skilled, diligent, committed, and dependable volunteers. While some are limited in mobility, many volunteer activities are still possible.
I have worked with older adult volunteers from newly retired Baby Boomers to the elderly population. There are a lot of people in this group willing and eager to make a difference. At my old office inside of a Community Center, an all-volunteer group supported a Senior Program for socializing. An accountant, a nun, and a nurse, all retired, coordinated all of its activities, attended by nearly 100 seniors. Others made wellness phone calls or home visits to isolated seniors who lived alone. One of our retired attorneys, a Stanford alumnus, volunteered legal services to the library system. Elderly volunteers who could not canvass the neighborhood for a campaign, instead made phone calls to voters. Retirees are adopting teenagers with little expectation for a family before aging out of the system. An old friend who recently retired, is volunteering full time for the California State Fair this summer. The list goes on, and all of these older adults are making a difference!
If your organization benefits or can benefit from volunteers, engage retired Baby Boomers in the work. Develop volunteer tasks and assignments that leverage the skills of this group and grow with aging needs while cultivating their interests. Embrace their spirit of commitment and giving to support YOUR cause. Otherwise your organization is missing out.
Please share your experiences! Leave a comment. Make YOUR difference in the world…Volunteer!