Studies show that older people that are involved in doing good for others also tend to be happier and more positive. In fact, a recent research report conducted by Stanford University, found that 34 million older American adults, or nearly a third, exhibit purpose beyond the self – that is, they actively pursue goals that are both personally meaningful and contribute to the greater good. Download the report here >
And with estimates that 140 million Americans will be over 50 by 2035, there is a lot of talent that non-profits and social enterprises can tap into. Two of those organizations, Encore.org and Senior Corps are determined to do just that. They are both focused on matching seniors with groups that can utilize their life experience to help solve social problems. In our FirstLantic blog this week, we profile three seniors that are part of this growing social impact movement.
Meet Grandma Alice Reid who has volunteered for over 11,341 hours as a foster grandparent. And at the youngish age of 92, she has no plans to stop. She spends an average of 33 hours per week reading to, and with, two children that are under five years old. She is so popular at the elementary school where she volunteers that more than 400 children held a 90th birthday celebration in her honor. Kindergarten teacher Regina Harshaw said, “We love Grandma Alice and we appreciate all that she does for us. She has been a wonderful part of our school.”
Steve Vradenburg works as a Senior Companion volunteer and has helping Art Schulz who lives in Seattle, Washington. Steve’s efforts allow Art (a WW II veteran who is 94 years old) to live semi-independently. Steve also served in the military as a combat medic during the Vietnam War where he was the recipient of two Purple Hearts. Together these two veterans enjoy golfing, gardening, and participating in other activities together. Watch this video to see how they enjoy spending their time together >
Former middle school teacher Allan Law now delivers 6 to 700 sandwiches a day to the homeless in Minneapolis. In fact, he has spent every day for the last 12 years distributing food and other essentials to those less fortunate. He leaves his home at 8 PM and usually doesn’t return until noon the following day. He also fields emergency calls from people who need his help while making his rounds. He doesn’t plan on quitting any time soon because he sees the impact that he makes. As Law says, “It just spreads like a good virus. If I was homeless and hungry and someone brought me a sandwich, I'd say 'thank you.'
So while the daily news can seem downright depressing at times, don’t get discouraged. There are plenty of amazing people who are doing everything in their power to make a positive social impact. And there is no reason why you can’t make a difference as well. There are even volunteer opportunities that you can do right from the comfort of your own home. So what are you waiting for? Be the change that you want to see.