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Article Archive >> Senior Life

Boomers-Our Next Wave of Volunteers?-

Boomers-Our Next Wave of Volunteers?

In an AARP 2003 survey, results showed that more than 80% of Americans aged 45 and older are involved in helping others without pay. Have you ever considered the thought of 'giving a hand' to a local charity or nonprofit organization?
Volunteerism- Good for Community, Good for You
Well, please do consider volunteering - for the sake of our community, as well as yourself. Research has shown a number of physical and emotional benefits to seniors who volunteer on a regular basis. In a study that followed seniors who volunteered and those who did not volunteer, those who lent a hand to their community more than 40 hours per year were 40% more likely to be alive at the end of the eight year study than non-volunteers. Less than an hour a week can add years to your life! Another study by Grossman and Furano in 2002, found that participation in activities such as regular volunteering "is the single strongest predictor, other than smoking, of longevity and vitality."
Additionally, volunteering allows the individual choice. Volunteering means that a person may choose the time schedule they prefer, choose the activity they want to do, who they want to do it for, and choose when they want to do it according to the commitments within their personal life. After retirement, it is normal for an individual to experience a void or loss. Volunteering can provide the retiree with a sense of purpose, yielding a rejuvenated spirit after leaving the workforce, not to mention creating a new connection for maintaining a social life. Most volunteers enjoy the flexibility that being involved on a volunteer basis offers, different from the rigors of a working schedule. And volunteers who regularly give of their time, report significantly higher levels of life satisfaction.
A Plan for Volunteers
Most organizations that are seeking volunteers actively recruit throughout the community in an attempt to select those that will best suit the needs of the organization, as well as reaffirming the desires of the potential volunteer. Once selection is made, the person should receive an orientation and/or training to ensure they fully comprehend the task at hand. After the initial training, regularly scheduled supervision or evaluation is important for ongoing dialog between the new volunteer and the organization. Organizations should offer volunteers ongoing education and/or support that encourages growth, as well as opportunity for feedback.
"Get Involved" Campaign
According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, now is the time for nonprofits to begin engaging the 77 million baby boomers that were born between the years 1946 and 1964. At the 2005 White House Conference on Aging, the once a-decade gathering that makes policy recommendations to the President and Congress about aging issues, a new national campaign, "Get Involved", was introduced. Over the next couple of years, a public service ad campaign will continue in hopes of attracting the boomers to consider volunteerism.
Celebrating Volunteers
Volunteers are defined as those who offer time to perform some activity without pay and for the benefit of others. They are an elite group that most organizations recognize as being an integral part of their support system. Without the help of volunteers, some nonprofits would not be able to provide the variety of services or help the number of clients in need. Volunteers fill the gap for shortages in manpower that some nonprofits' budgets cannot support.
During April 15 - 21, all across America, volunteers will be honored during National Volunteer Week. The week is set aside as a time to recognize and celebrate the thousands of men, women and young people who volunteer across the country and Make a Difference in their communities!
If you haven't volunteered to date, you might want to consider the value added that volunteering can bring to one's life. Here are a couple of activities that local agencies engage volunteers to do:
Easter Seals Adult Day Services- Volunteers can work directly with clients, help staff with activities or crafts, provide administrative assistance, develop marketing materials, man a booth at health fairs, perform handyman fix ups of old adaptive equipment or take care of some neglected picture hanging, help troubleshoot networking problems, or perform regular PC maintenance. Volunteer Coordinator: Tawnya Creager at 301-745-3828.
Hospice of Washington County- Volunteers can serve on the board of directors, provide courier service to local physician offices, assist in the office, work directly with patients and families as a companion volunteers. Some offer their 'special services' in a volunteer capacity, such as massage, hair stylist, music, and Reiki. Volunteer Coordinator: Mary Foor at 301-791-6360.
Somerford Assisted Living and Alzheimer's Care- Volunteers can help staff with activities and crafts, provide spiritual or worship services, be involved with pet visits through Wags of Hope, or intergenerational support services. Volunteer Coordinator: Marianne Walsh at 301-791-9221.

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