Baby boomers and seniors take up volunteering

Beth Pinyerd


By Beth Pinyerd

As the school bell has rung, we seniors and baby boomers can truly find a “niche” or place in preschools and schools.

Volunteering to help others costs nothing except your time. Many of us baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) are entering our retirement years. For some of us, that could mean a regular work schedule is slowing down. Due to changing economic needs, many baby boomers will continue to work full-time and part-time. One model the larger generation has provided for us is to freely give back to the community as volunteers, no matter how busy our lives are. As baby boomers, we have talents, gifts, skills, and wisdom that we can share with others. The benefits of a sense of purpose and relationships are so rewarding. There are things money can’t buy. Helping others is one of those conveniences. Also, as baby boomers, we are looking for ways to help us stay healthy. Volunteering can benefit us socially, mentally, physically and emotionally. The National Council on Aging defines intergenerational programs “as activities that increase cooperation and exchange between two generations… A relationship between young and old has been shown to enlighten both generations.” As I have been fortunate to serve both young and old, intergenerational relationships are something that goes beyond anything money can buy. What is exchanged mentally, physically, socially and emotionally is so rich in benefits for young and old alike.

Lee Ann Scroggins, preschool director at Trinity United Methodist Church, invited older adults from the church and community to volunteer to teach young children about music, library, chapel and other ways according to needs. As a baby boomer myself, I deeply appreciate this type of outreach from Trinity United Methodist Church to continue using my teaching skills in service to young children by reading books from the library. I call my Tuesday volunteer day “Great Tuesdays” with the kids because I get to be with my young friends. Young children provide such a spark of energy and enthusiasm to older adults. Children are truly blind to age differences. They love us elders unconditionally for who we are. What a rainbow booster!

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Engaging in volunteer opportunities gives you time to explore your interests and the “when, where and why” you want to volunteer in certain areas. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

1. Do I want to do something I’m good at like music, reading, crafting, mentoring, tutoring, etc. ?

2. Do I want to make the community and the world I live in a better place?

3. Do I want to try something new?

4. Do I want to meet people different from me?

5. What can I do with my free time to help others?

Here are some other helpful questions you can ask yourself:

1. How much time can you dedicate to volunteer activities?

2. How do you want to serve? Do you want to serve behind the scenes or do you want to be a leader?

3. What level of responsibility will be expected of you in a particular volunteer role?

4. As a baby boomer, what skills and talents can be leveraged for the volunteer work you are considering accepting?

5. Do you want to volunteer serving adults, children, families, animals, environmental maintenance or something else?

6. Where do you want to volunteer? A few options:

A. Educational parameters

B. Centers for the elderly or retirement homes

C. Libraries

D. Animal Shelters

E. Museums

F. Places of worship

G. Local Food Banks

H. Service Organizations

I. Youth and children’s organizations and

J. Volunteer opportunities in the local community in the Auburn-Opelika area.

Benefits of volunteering:

1. Volunteering is good for you socially. During my youthful years in Opelika, Alabama, I always noticed and was impressed that unpaid volunteers were the glue that held our community together. Those Scout leaders, Sunday School teachers, volunteer workers in our health care facilities, and volunteers in service organizations are names I still remember today.

When you volunteer, you make new friends. No task is too small to help enrich the lives of people, animals, service organizations and places in need. As a volunteer, you meet current needs and leave a lasting memory of gratitude.

2. Volunteering is good for your mind. When you help and do good for others, you can’t help but feel a good sense of accomplishment. Your role as a volunteer gives you meaning in your baby boom years. Additionally, freely sharing time and helpful service to others provides satisfaction in life, which can boost self-confidence. Volunteering also helps fight depression because it connects us with other people.

3. Volunteering is good for physical health. Many volunteer activities may require physical activity, such as helping seniors navigate activities, attending to the needs of young children, packing boxes at service organizations, and in pet therapy, working with pets. and animals has shown that stress and anxiety decrease and mood improves, leading to better overall health.

4. Volunteering promotes good emotional health. While volunteering in the community myself, I have noticed that many of the good committed volunteers are those with limited mobility. People with disabilities or health issues are so determined to help others. When we help others, we gain benefits in life and feel good about ourselves. It can be good for our health at any age.

I hope that we baby boomers and seniors realize that when we help others, we help ourselves. It’s a two-way relationship where everyone benefits.

Beth Pinyerd

Class Observer

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