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Volunteer to Make a Difference

Americans of all ages are coming together in service. Some have been inspired to volunteer in response to tragic events—such as the terrorist attacks of September 11th, the devastating hurricanes down South and the horrible wildfires in the west. No matter the reason, individuals are volunteering to make our nation a better place.

Congress realized the need for volunteers nationwide and last year passed the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act. The bipartisan legislation provides ways to improve the national volunteer infrastructure, increase volunteer opportunities for people of all ages, and to improve and expand service at home and abroad. The legislation even contains a specific provision devoted to enhancing service opportunities for people 50+.

Get Involved with AARP

Of course, the idea of engaging older people to help make a difference is not new. AARP’s founder, Ethel Percy Andrus, believed that helping others provided a sense of dignity, purpose and joy. Her motto, “To serve, not to be served,” has guided AARP for decades. For the past 50 years, AARP has tapped into the energy, skills and commitment to serve of so many Americans. It was Dr. Andrus who called older people an “army of useful citizens.”

AARP has many ways for people to get involved according to their interests, including:

A Study in Volunteering

Recently, AARP commissioned a major study based on a survey of Americans ages 44 to 79 called More to Give: Tapping the Talents of the Baby Boomer, Silent and Greatest Generation.

The study revealed that, for the first time ever, a generation of Americans believes they will leave the world in worse shape than it was when they inherited it. Even so, they want to make change for the benefit of their children and grandchildren. They want to make a difference.

The report found that boomers are already volunteering at high rates; four in 10 say they would actually like to do more. Volunteer opportunities that are most appealing:

  • Allow individuals to volunteer on their time, and on their terms.
  • Have no commitment or structure.
  • Include no busy work—making sure skills are put to good use.
  • Benefit others in the volunteer’s own community.

For those who haven’t yet volunteered, the biggest barriers were time and money—with more than half of AARP members working full time, it is no wonder.

Create the Good

Recognizing that boomers and older Americans have much to contribute, earlier this year AARP launched Create the Good to help our members get involved in activities that assist their neighbors and better their communities. When you log on to Create the Good you’ll discover hundreds of ways to get involved—whether you have five minutes or five hours. You can actually key in your zip code to find a wide array of volunteer opportunities in your area.

Create the Good even has its own Online Community where members can share their volunteer experiences and get new ideas. If you would like more information on how to Create the Good in Massachusetts—or for other volunteer opportunities in the Bay State—send an email to ma@aarp.org or call us toll free at 1-866-448-3621.

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