Your Community Foundation has launched an exciting program in Partnership with the United Way of Greater Kansas City called “Boomers Get Connected” that has grown out of the work of our Community for all Ages Coalitions.
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. 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.
United Way has a robust web based volunteer engagement platform that Truman Heartland is introducing to the Eastern Jackson County community. In July in we conducted four meetings with organizations who are seeking volunteers to learn about our “Boomers Get Connected” initiative and how we can work together and connect Boomer volunteers to their work and mission. Some of the attendees of these meetings were area nonprofits: Habitat for Humanity, Community Services League, Hillcrest Transitional Housing, Boy’s and Girl’s Club, CAPA, Harvesters, and Hope House. Attendees also included the Lee’s Summit Parks and Recreation, City of Independence, Raytown Parks and Recreation, St. Mary’s Hospital, Centerpoint Medical Center and St. Luke’s East Hospital. We have three more meetings planned for August to engage more organizations in this initiative. If you are associated with an organization that utilizes volunteers and want to be sure your organization is invited to attend please let me know.
During phase one (July – September) we are focused on building the supply of volunteer opportunities in our region on the United Way website so when we start reaching out to Boomers on October 1st they will find many volunteer opportunities in our Eastern Jackson County community. Phase two is reaching out to organizations that can connect us with Boomers. So we will also be inviting Retiree Associations, Churches, Businesses with United Way programs, and Civic Organizations to meet with us to learn about the “Boomers Get Connected” initiative and explore how we might serve their members/customers by connecting them with opportunities to utilize their time and talents as volunteers.
Our second phase will kick off on October 1, 2017. With the goal of having 600 Boomers utilizing the Boomers Get Connected site by October 1, 2018, we will need to have 10% of the 500 Boomers in our area reaching age 65 each month signed up to use the site to locate organizations in which they can volunteer. It’s an ambitious goal, but one that will have a big impact on our community. Again, I welcome your thoughts on organizations we should engage. Please contact me.
We believe Boomers in our community will be ready to jump in and get connected based on the market research we conducted with people age 55 and better in Eastern Jackson County. Here a few of the findings:
- Over 80% are currently volunteers
- Of the 20% who don’t volunteer, 75% have an interest in doing so
- 28% are volunteering 5 or more hours per week
- 45% volunteer but less than 4 hours per week
So, the good news is that the vast majority (80%) are already engaged as volunteers, and as they move into retirement will have more time to volunteer, particularly the 45% volunteering less than 4 hours a week. And those who are not currently volunteering, the vast majority (75%) have an interest in volunteering.
We also learned from the study that a large percentage of Boomers (40%) are providing some care for grandchildren, and 68% providing some type of caregiving for grandchildren, friends or neighbors. Yet caregiving was cited by only 7% 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 participate with their grandkids.
We are excited about our “Boomers Get Connected” 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. Your ideas are appreciated.