April 14, 2010; Baltimore Sun | Given a choice, would Baby Boomers rather spend their retirement years in obscurity or would they welcome a chance to use skills and expertise developed over a lifetime to better their communities? A group of three foundations are betting $1 million that Baltimore’s older adults, given the chance, will choose to volunteer.
The Baltimore Community Foundation, Atlantic Philanthropies and the Leonard and Helen R. Stulman Foundation are teaming together for a three-year project, dubbed Neighbors in Deed, that the trio hopes will encourage 1,200 older adults to contribute some 500,000 hours of work to nonprofit organizations in their communities. The money will be targeted to boost volunteer support for work in specific neighborhoods.
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Projects include older adults working together with younger residents to make their communities safer or volunteers helping in other parts of the city to enhance green spaces. Backers of the initiative say what they learn from this work could inform future efforts to more fully engage the growing older adult population in the U.S. According to the Baltimore Sun, in another 20 years, the number of people over age 60 living in the United States is expected to top any society “in the history of the world.” The challenge is not only for us to grow older, but wiser too, and put this talent to work all across the nation.—Bruce Trachtenberg