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What if you could implement one program that will address the rising trend of social isolation, provide a wave of talented volunteers to nonprofits serving your citizens in need and make your community attractive to a generation with a lot of time, talent and treasure to share? That would be a win-win-win situation.  The communities that get this right will have a competitive advantage over the next 20-30 years.

Each day in the United States, 10,000 baby boomers retire. This wave of retirements is leaving a void that is proving very difficult to fill. It is a shortage of talent and expertise at a time when the labor market is already tight, and communities are finding themselves struggling to recruit and retain talent. But that’s only the half of it. Post retirement, more people are feeling another kind of void – like something’s missing. It’s a sense of loss and disconnectedness- a vacuum in their lives – a loss of the sense of purpose, relevance and identity their career previously provided.

Social isolation is a serious and growing problem. According to the U.S. Surgeon General, it is the top health concern for seniors. According to a recent New York Times report, a wave of new research suggests social separation is bad for us – BYU researchers noting that it causes the equivalent health impact of smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. Individuals with less social connection have disrupted sleep patterns, altered immune systems, more inflammation and higher levels of stress hormones. One recent study found that isolation increases the risk of heart disease by 29 percent and stroke by 32 percent.

Greg Burris, former Springfield City Manager, and Cora Scott, Springfield Director of Public Information & Civic Engagement, created a civic engagement program called Give 5 while working together at the City of Springfield to address five macro-trends that are impacting every community. (Listed below) It is a program that matches retired (or almost retired) baby boomers with strategic volunteer opportunities, and it addresses all five of these trends simultaneously.

It’s a way for retirees and seniors to apply their talents and passions directly to a community’s primary areas of need. “We call it civic matchmaking,” Burris says. “The program provides the journey to find the best individual fit between program participant and nonprofit volunteer opportunity.”

“This is not like the typical volunteer engagement. It can’t be,” Scott says. “The baby boomers are used to rewriting the rules, living life on their own terms and now they are turning the idea of retirement on its head,” said Burris, who recently retired himself from the role of Springfield City Manager. “We are a generation that has planned and saved for an active retirement – one that is driven by choice, opportunity and purpose,” he says.  “We have an inherent need to feel relevant, not feel like we’re being put out to pasture.  And we’re going to be extraordinarily bad at watching daytime television all day.”

What if you could implement one program that will address the rising trend of social isolation, provide a wave of talented volunteers to nonprofits serving your citizens in need and make your community attractive to a generation with a lot of time, talent and treasure to share? That would be a win-win-win situation.  The communities that get this right will have a competitive advantage over the next 20-30 years.

Each day in the United States, 10,000 baby boomers retire. This wave of retirements is leaving a void that is proving very difficult to fill. It is a shortage of talent and expertise at a time when the labor market is already tight, and communities are finding themselves struggling to recruit and retain talent. But that’s only the half of it. Post retirement, more people are feeling another kind of void – like something’s missing. It’s a sense of loss and disconnectedness- a vacuum in their lives – a loss of the sense of purpose, relevance and identity their career previously provided.

Social isolation is a serious and growing problem. According to the U.S. Surgeon General, it is the top health concern for seniors. According to a recent New York Times report, a wave of new research suggests social separation is bad for us – BYU researchers noting that it causes the equivalent health impact of smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. Individuals with less social connection have disrupted sleep patterns, altered immune systems, more inflammation and higher levels of stress hormones. One recent study found that isolation increases the risk of heart disease by 29 percent and stroke by 32 percent.

Greg Burris, former Springfield City Manager, and Cora Scott, Springfield Director of Public Information & Civic Engagement, created a civic engagement program called Give 5 while working together at the City of Springfield to address five macro-trends that are impacting every community. (Listed below) It is a program that matches retired (or almost retired) baby boomers with strategic volunteer opportunities, and it addresses all five of these trends simultaneously.

It’s a way for retirees and seniors to apply their talents and passions directly to a community’s primary areas of need. “We call it civic matchmaking,” Burris says. “The program provides the journey to find the best individual fit between program participant and nonprofit volunteer opportunity.”

“This is not like the typical volunteer engagement. It can’t be,” Scott says. “The baby boomers are used to rewriting the rules, living life on their own terms and now they are turning the idea of retirement on its head,” said Burris, who recently retired himself from the role of Springfield City Manager. “We are a generation that has planned and saved for an active retirement – one that is driven by choice, opportunity and purpose,” he says.  “We have an inherent need to feel relevant, not feel like we’re being put out to pasture.  And we’re going to be extraordinarily bad at watching daytime television all day.”

How Give 5 Works

Each class consists of 20-25 people who participate in five program days over five weeks. Upon graduation, alumni intuitively become ambassadors for the myriad of volunteer opportunities in the community and the Give 5 program.

How Give 5 Works

Each class consists of 20-25 people who participate in five program days over five weeks. Upon graduation, alumni intuitively become ambassadors for the myriad of volunteer opportunities in the community and the Give 5 program.

Program Benefits

Give 5 matches baby boomer generation retirees with unfilled volunteer opportunities in the community and addresses the issues of isolation, purpose, and relevance that retirees often confront by celebrating them and their contributions in a fun and social manner. It also introduces boomers to new people and new ways of thinking via a shared experience and the bonding that occurs as a result, thus strengthening the community’s “bridging” social capital. Finally, it links individuals with their true passions within a community’s menu of non-profit organizations.

Program Benefits

Give 5 matches baby boomer generation retirees with unfilled volunteer opportunities in the community and addresses the issues of isolation, purpose, and relevance that retirees often confront by celebrating them and their contributions in a fun and social manner. It also introduces boomers to new people and new ways of thinking via a shared experience and the bonding that occurs as a result, thus strengthening the community’s “bridging” social capital. Finally, it links individuals with their true passions within a community’s menu of non-profit organizations.

Why It’s Needed

Programs like Give 5 are needed because the future health and vitality of our communities depends on it. With an army of skilled baby boomers already retired, and another wave of boomers retiring over the next 12 years, the communities that figure out effective volunteer matchmaking will be the ones that thrive and offer the best quality of life.  And quality of life attracts economic development.

Many communities have a wide variety of volunteer needs, such as …

  • City and county governments need talented, passionate volunteers to serve on their boards and commissions.
  • “Upstream” nonprofits that are working hard to keep people out of hardship situations.
  • “Downstream” nonprofits that are working hard to address the symptoms of poverty.
  • Young professionals and entrepreneurs also need mentorship and access to expertise, institutional knowledge, and wisdom.

Why It’s Needed

Programs like Give 5 are needed because the future health and vitality of our communities depends on it. With an army of skilled baby boomers already retired, and another wave of boomers retiring over the next 12 years, the communities that figure out effective volunteer matchmaking will be the ones that thrive and offer the best quality of life.  And quality of life attracts economic development.

Many communities have a wide variety of volunteer needs, such as …

  • City and county governments need talented, passionate volunteers to serve on their boards and commissions.
  • “Upstream” nonprofits that are working hard to keep people out of hardship situations.
  • “Downstream” nonprofits that are working hard to address the symptoms of poverty.
  • Young professionals and entrepreneurs also need mentorship and access to expertise, institutional knowledge, and wisdom.

Background

The primary inspiration for the program came from the City of Springfield and the non-profit organizations that participated in the City’s Community Listen and Zone Blitz initiatives that used a comprehensive, civic engagement approach to work alongside neighbors to identify the community’s top challenges and opportunities. In Springfield / Greene County, the Give 5 program is joint-funded by the City of Springfield and the Greene County Senior Citizens’ Service Fund. The program was moved from the City to the United Way of the Ozarks when Greg Burris retired as Springfield’s City Manager and began working with United Way of the Ozarks as their Executive in Residence.  It is being licensed through the United Way of the Ozarks to interested communities.

The Give 5 program is customizable, scalable and flexible, so it can be implemented in any community that needs additional oars in the water to help address one or more community challenges.  The program’s focus can be customized to address the priority challenges specific to any community, and can be adjusted to accommodate any community’s assets, strengths and weaknesses.

Background

The primary inspiration for the program came from the City of Springfield and the non-profit organizations that participated in the City’s Community Listen and Zone Blitz initiatives that used a comprehensive, civic engagement approach to work alongside neighbors to identify the community’s top challenges and opportunities. In Springfield / Greene County, the Give 5 program is joint-funded by the City of Springfield and the Greene County Senior Citizens’ Service Fund. The program was moved from the City to the United Way of the Ozarks when Greg Burris retired as Springfield’s City Manager and began working with United Way of the Ozarks as their Executive in Residence.  It is being licensed through the United Way of the Ozarks to interested communities.

The Give 5 program is customizable, scalable and flexible, so it can be implemented in any community that needs additional oars in the water to help address one or more community challenges.  The program’s focus can be customized to address the priority challenges specific to any community, and can be adjusted to accommodate any community’s assets, strengths and weaknesses.

5 Macrotrends that Give 5 Addresses Simultaneously

  1. Wave of Talent on the Move – 10,000 baby boomers are turning 65 every day for 19 years, but most are not seeking a “traditional” retirement.
  2. Largest Boomer Health Risk – social isolation is a large and growing health issue.
  3. Growing Need to Strengthen Community Fabric – the power of a shared experience and meeting people outside of your bubble.
  4. Increased Importance of Volunteerism – nonprofits are in need of additional skills and talents in this hyper-competitive labor market.
  5. Largest Transfer of Wealth in History – it’s underway . . . where will those legacy gifts be directed?

5 Macrotrends that Give 5 Addresses Simultaneously

  1. Wave of Talent on the Move – 10,000 baby boomers are turning 65 every day for 19 years, but most are not seeking a “traditional” retirement.
  2. Largest Boomer Health Risk – social isolation is a large and growing health issue.
  3. Growing Need to Strengthen Community Fabric – the power of a shared experience and meeting people outside of your bubble.
  4. Increased Importance of Volunteerism – nonprofits are in need of additional skills and talents in this hyper-competitive labor market.
  5. Largest Transfer of Wealth in History – it’s underway . . . where will those legacy gifts be directed?
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