Volunteering: Benefit for Boomers - and Their Communities
The Baby Boom generation spans nearly 20 years. Its oldest members are already well into their 60s, while the youngest members are entering their 50s. Volunteering provides benefits to Boomers of all ages and at all stages of their retirement years, as well as to the communities that they serve.
One aspect that many retired workers miss is the sense of structure that they gained from going into the office everyday. Working also gave them a sense of purpose and a reason to get up and get dressed every day. The workplace also provides a sense of community that many people lose after they graduate from high school and university.
Boomers who are involved with volunteer activities are more likely to retain a sense of connectedness to others. They are less prone to isolation and its related health problems. Research shows that individuals who volunteer often have lower blood pressure, less stress and reduced risk of heart disease. The sense of community gained from interaction with others increases endorphin production and enhances the immune system.
Although many Boomers enjoy good health, one reality of aging is an increase in health concerns. Many Boomers, especially those who are older, must deal with acute health problems and chronic diseases. Research demonstrates that Boomers who volunteer gain tangible benefits in the treatment and management of medical conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and even cancer. Volunteers with limited mobility can also benefit from volunteering; either on site with appropriate accommodations made for their participation, or through home based volunteering.
The majority of younger Boomers are still in the workforce. However, many Boomers have found themselves pushed into the job search by the recession discrimination. Volunteering can provide Boomers with a leg up in the job search arena. Volunteer work can fill gaps in a resume. Volunteering is also an ideal means of maintaining a current skill set or of learning new skills. As volunteers, younger Boomers can afford to branch out of their comfort zones to develop skills such as public speaking, social networking and other skills that enhance their value to prospective employers. Interaction with colleagues within the volunteer workplace also provides job seeking Boomers with an avenue for networking that could provide valuable leads for paid jobs.
Unfortunately, they have also often found themselves on the receiving end of overt or subtle age discrimination. While volunteering cannot change the attitudes of biased employers, it can provide a boost in self confidence that allows Boomers to bounce back from rejection by short-sighted employers – and continue searching for the right job.
The ongoing financial crisis has left many communities lacking in essential services as states and local governments cut back to attempt to bridge budget gaps. For better or for worse, not for profit agencies are often called upon to fill the gap, and Boomers have a vital role to play Volunteers are the lifeblood of many such agencies, and many Boomers have valuable skills that nonprofit agencies need.
Many Boomers are highly skilled in areas that the community needs – physicians, accountants, attorneys and other professionals can provide vital services to less fortunate members of their communities. However, blue-collar workers can also benefit their communities through volunteer work – carpenters, plumbers, electricians and others in the skilled trades represent an invaluable resource. Service workers also have much to offer, through their experience with dealing with people’s concerns and taking care of details such as maintaining accurate inventory records.
Article From Inter Valley Health Plan