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Volunteer Service and Civic Involvement

Many programs that offer human services depend heavily on volunteers. As the need grows, many service providers and agencies view you and other healthy baby boomers as the mother lode of future volunteers.

Times have changed, however, since communities were able to tap women, who did not work for pay outside the home, as a huge cadre of smart, healthy, but unpaid service providers.

Although they are interested in helping to address their community’s needs, many retirees are also anxious to protect their time and want to be selective on how they use it. Agencies must seek new ways of making service attractive to this generation of volunteers. Examples include giving volunteers more flexibility to design what they do, assigning specific tasks that they can accomplish in short, easily scheduled sections of time, and developing job sharing.

While older people may be more inclined to vote and participate in civic work, the generations that were older in the 1980s and 1990s are the ones that had high values for civic engagement. Who knows at what level the boomers and generation X will engage? The major threat to an involved citizenry may be cynicism.

Page Author: Hal Freshley

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