Previously in this monthly column I have shared some of our efforts with our Community for All Ages Coalition.
This month I want to give you a preview of an exciting program we will soon launch in partnership with the United Way of Greater Kansas City, that has grown out of the Coalition’s work.
First, a reminder that our Community for All Ages Coalition is a 60-member strong group of community leaders who have a goal of ensuring our Eastern Jackson County communities are proactively and collaboratively working together so that we are prepared for the challenges and opportunities created by a doubling of the age 65+ population in our community in the next 15 years.
Every month in our Eastern Jackson County Community, 500 boomers turn age 65, and this will continue for the next 12 years resulting in a doubling of the number of people over age 65 in our community.
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Some see this as a challenge, however, your Community Foundation and our Community for All Ages Coalition believes it presents a tremendous opportunity. Our goal is to create an environment that enables many of us boomers as we move into retirement years to utilize our talent, time and energy as volunteers in our community. This would certainly be good for the organizations where we volunteer but studies show it will also be good for our own physical and mental health.
The Truman Heartland Community Foundation has partnered with the United Way of Greater Kansas City in this effort. United Way has a robust web-based volunteer engagement platform that we will be introducing to the Eastern Jackson County community.
Starting in July we will be inviting groups of organizations who are seeking volunteers to come learn about our “Boomers Get Connected” initiative and how we can work together and connect boomer volunteers to their work and mission. This will include area nonprofits like Habitat for Humanity, Community Services League, Hillcrest Transitional Housing, Drumm Farm as well as groups like the Lee’s Summit Parks and Recreation, City of Independence and many others. If you are associated with an organization that utilizes volunteers and want to be sure your organization is invited to attend please contact me.
At the same time we will be reaching to networks and organizations that can connect us with boomers. So we will also be inviting retiree associations, churches, businesses, civic organizations to come learn about the “Boomers Get Connected” initiative and explore how we might serve their members/customers by connecting them with opportunities to utilize their talent, time and energy as volunteers.
We think boomers in our community will be ready to jump in and get connected. In an earlier column I shared the results of market research we conducted with people age 55 and better in Eastern Jackson County. Here a few of the findings:
• Over 80 percent are currently volunteers
• Of the 20 percent who don’t volunteer, 75 percent have an interest in doing so
• 28 percent are volunteering five or more hours per week
• 45 percent volunteer but fewer than four hours per week
So, the good news is that the vast majority are already engaged as volunteers, and as they move into retirement will have more time to volunteer, particularly the 45 percent volunteering less than four hours a week. And those who are not currently volunteering, the vast majority have an interest in volunteering.
We also learned from the study that a large percentage of boomers (40 percent) are providing some care for grandchildren, and 68percent provide some type of caregiving for grandchildren, friends or neighbors. Yet caregiving was cited by only 7 percent as having a significant impact on their level of volunteering. One of the recommendations of the study is that we develop opportunities for intergenerational volunteering, or in other words volunteer opportunities that boomers can do with their grandkids.
We look forward to moving forward with this initiative in partnership with the Greater Kansas City United Way. If you have ideas or suggestions for me on how we can help “Boomers Get Connected” please share those with me and in future columns we will periodically update you on our progress.