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Volunteering

“We baby boomers feel responsible for making a difference, for giving something back.”

—James V. Gambone, in ReFirement

As a volunteer, you want to feel good about what you contribute, and you want the organization for which you volunteer to appreciate you and treat you with respect. You also want to respect the work that the organization performs and believe in its worth and effectiveness.

The structure that supports most volunteering in our society was designed for the generation that fought World War II. It may not fit the needs and interests of baby boomers and those who follow them. Many do not want to make the substantial commitment that federally funded programs such as Senior Companions and Foster Grandparents require (15 to 40 hours a week).

As a volunteer you are likely looking for creative, stimulating, primarily short-term activities that demonstrate clear benefits and match your interests and schedules.

Governmental and social service agencies are working to accommodate these changing needs and interests. Congress has charged the Corporation for National and Community Service, which oversees the Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, and Learn and Serve America, to engage more Americans as volunteers.

The rapid aging of our population creates both a need and an opportunity for service as a volunteer. In rural communities, where the overall population is both declining and aging, sharing your strengths and mutually caring for each other is paramount. In urban communities, opportunities to volunteer are considerable and varied.

 

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