“Help Wanted” signs hang in windows across the country. Headlines report shortages for teachers, nurses, and other critical roles. Many businesses are reducing their hours or limiting their services.
One thing is clear: schools, nonprofits, and companies everywhere are struggling to find enough help. The root cause of these shortages is complex and the issues behind the hiring crisis are most definitely worthy of our consideration.
In the meantime, there are children who need tutors, families facing food insecurity, and countless other causes that need assistance.
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when faced with adversity on such a massive scale. But, there are actionable steps that can make a difference in our communities. And, seniors are uniquely equipped with a tremendous resource to improve our current situation: time.
Volunteer work is one way seniors can leave a lasting legacy and support their friends and neighbors.
Not too many years ago, volunteer opportunities were generally limited to positions at daycare centers, hospitals, and churches.
Today, seniors can choose from a steadily growing list of activities that can be structured to suit almost every lifestyle.
A new mobile app, Be My Eyes, makes it possible for volunteers to assist people with visual impairments with everyday tasks – all from their smartphones. Sighted volunteers receive photos or videos through the app and assist a randomly assigned person via live chat.
At the other end of the spectrum, Volunteering Solutions pairs seniors with projects around the globe. Participants can pair travel opportunities with meaningful work in more than 26 countries.
Closer to home, there are abundant opportunities through schools, civic organizations, food pantries, sporting events, and even performing arts venues.
If you have a passion for history, science, or art, becoming a museum docent is a chance to deepen your interests. Once trained, volunteers are called upon to give museum tours and lectures or help with school groups.
Performing arts centers often call on senior volunteers to serve as ushers. It could be an opportunity to see the latest Broadway musical (at no cost to you) and give back at the same time.
Whether you choose to explore something totally new or draw on past career experience, there is almost certainly an organization that can benefit from your help.
Collectively, Baby Boomers have the power to make a tremendous impact. This generation has changed the face of the U.S. population for more than 70 years and will continue to do so as they enter their senior years. According to census data, all baby boomers will reach retirement age by 2030.
While we must continue to work to address the systemic issues driving staffing shortages in healthcare, education, and other critical sectors, it is exciting to think of what is possible if this incredible generation is willing to use their time and talents to make a difference in their communities.