A New Face of Volunteering


Filed under Work & Volunteering

(ARA) – As the oldest baby boomers move closer to retirement, studies indicate that approximately one-third have intentions to participate in community service.

Although one would think that individuals volunteer in greater numbers once they retire, as a general rule, the percentage of those giving of their time actually peaks at mid-life and then gradually declines. At the same time, Americans who do volunteer during their early years of retirement do it with greater frequency than younger volunteers.

A recent study by the Harvard School of Public Health followed 1,200 elderly adults over a seven-year period and found those that volunteered even a little, lived longer than those who didn’t.

“We have many regular volunteers at Little Brothers  Friends of the Elderly who are age 60 and over that help other elders by delivering meals, setting up special events at our local chapters and providing friendly visiting,” comments Liz Drew, executive director of Little Brothers  Friends of the Elderly, with headquarters in Chicago.

Take Anne and Lou Yauss of Cincinnati, a couple in their seventies who knows first hand the value of volunteering. They have been contributing their time and support to Little Brothers  Friends of the Elderly since the local chapter was launched in 1997. Nona Hanson, age 75, of Minneapolis has seen the benefits of sharing her skills and imparting her knowledge and wisdom through the nonprofit organization’s Elders Counseling Elders program.

Older Americans like Hanson and the Yauss’ can create a social legacy much like the early years of President John F. Kennedy’s call-to-service. As reported by the Harvard School of Public Health, other research has demonstrated that social connectedness, remaining actively engaged in the community, is a key to healthy aging.

What can you do to get involved as a volunteer with local organizations?

1. Think of the skills you have developed over the years in a job you had previously or are currently involved. Whether  it’s healthcare, finance, social service or education, the experience you have can lend a boost to a variety of nonprofit or civic organizations in your community.

2. Look beyond job skills to hobbies and other inspirational areas of your life. You have a lifetime of experiences to share with others that can leave a lasting legacy on future generations.

3. Don’t wait for organizations to come looking for you. Contact your local Chamber of Commerce to get listings of nonprofit and other volunteer-oriented organizations in your area. For instance, Little Brothers  Friends of the Elderly has nine chapters throughout the United States (www.littlebrothers.org).

4. Evaluate the time commitment you can make and decide if you want a short-term (i.e., helping out charitable organizations with special events) or a long-term commitment (i.e., making daily or weekly visits to elderly or disabled residents).

5. Dismiss the image of volunteers as those that having nothing else to do. Whether you are working part-time, full-time or not at all, you are part of a generation that is educated, motivated and able to leave a positive mark on society.

Article courtesy of ARAcontent

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