Removing Barriers to Engaging 50+ Volunteers
By Linda Camp, Invisible Force and Mary Quirk, Minnesota Association for Volunteer Administration
“Our aging population presents many incredible opportunities,” says Lt. Governor Yvonne Prettner Solon. “People over the age of 50 are one of our fastest growing natural resources. We need to tap this resource, a pool of people who boast unmatched levels of experience, expertise, talent and creativity that is born of lifetimes full of civic and community engagement.”
With this belief in mind, Lt. Governor Prettner Solon convened thought leaders in volunteer engagement in a daylong summit titled, Game Changers: Building Minnesota's Future with 50+ Talent. The Minnesota Board on Aging, Aging 2030, and the members of the Invisible Force, including the Vital Aging Network, co-sponsored the summit.
More than 120 people participated in the September 27 summit to talk about how to better engage the talents of the 50+ age cohort to benefit Minnesota. The goal of the day was to identify solutions for addressing barriers that keep older adults from volunteer and civic engagement roles.
Action was a major theme of the day and, to that end, participants spent most of the day in one of three work groups. Focus areas included helping individuals seeking engagement opportunities; improving connectors, networks, and systems; and creating opportunities to use 50+ talent. By the end of the day, nearly all of the participants had identified and made a commitment to implement at least one action step to help carry out the ideas generated in the work groups. Such action steps included everything from creating organization web pages to highlight opportunities to helping to create a State level 50+ volunteer recognition event.
Follow-up activities coming out of the summit are expected to continue over the coming months. Outcomes will be documented and shared with the Board on Aging and the Lt. Governor in the spring. Overall, participants gave high marks to the day. In the words of one attendee, “Having everyone focused on 50+ volunteerism…brings great energy and excitement for what can be if we all work together.”
The Invisible Force collaborative group is committed to supporting and expanding volunteer service opportunities in Minnesota to strengthen the community and serve all citizens. This network includes:
- Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Greater
- Mentoring Partnership of Minnesota
- Minnesota Alliance with Youth
- Minnesota Association of Volunteer Administrators (MAVA)
- Twin Cities Public Television (tpt)
- United Way Caring Connection
- HandsOn Twin Cities
- Vital Aging Network