As of 2007 more than 35 million baby boomers were retired; the statistics on 2007 will not be available until January.
According to the U.S. Department of Census, since 2006 the number of people turning 60 each day is 7,918 or 330 every hour. Those indomitable individuals born between 1946 and 1964 are doing it again. Just as they have changed the face of parenthood, exercise, gender roles, lifestyles and just about everything else they are now changing the face of retirement.
The new trend among baby boomers is to have what is being dubbed "encore careers"; unlike their first careers these new jobs have a civic minded tint. They are volunteering in record numbers at non profits, charities and other civic organizations that are community based.
The idea is not to "make money" but to change the world. Three individuals who represent this new trend-Dick Gurney, George Cook and Elise Beane-each has come from a different area of business but still chosen to start second careers as volunteers.
Dick Gurney is typical of the new face of volunteerism. After spending over 30 years as an employee and then supervisor at General Electric's Rutland plant he retired.
An avid golfer at a healthy age 60, Dick Gurney could have very easily retired to a life of leisure. Instead he has chosen to give something back to the community and volunteer at Rutland Regional Medical Center. Today, Dick is a volunteer Surgical Patient Advocate at RRMC.
In his new job he acts at the liaison between the hospital's surgical staff and patient's family. Who hasn't been alone in a hospital waiting for word on a beloved family or friend's condition?
At RRMC Dick is the person that advocates for those people. On a recent visit he had a clip board with names of families and friends along with the time their loved ones went into surgery. During his shift he made and received calls from the surgical unit about loved ones. In addition he offered free coffee and a smiling face to those waiting.
When asked why he decided to volunteer he replied, "I have the time; in the past you don't always have time. This hospital really pushes services. This job that I do here I am not aware of at other hospitals. How many times do you sit in a hospital and don't know who to call or what to do. Here there is a face, someone to help."
George Cook is amazing by any standard.
At age 60, George Cook is one of the few Amerasians in Vermont. However, instead of isolating himself within his own community he has chosen to dedicate himself to helping others. Perhaps it is his Asian approach to life combined with western esthetics that gives him the perspective to see all work as a way of changing the world.
George spent his career working for the Vermont Department of Corrections.
While many people might not see the corrections department as a vocation, it certainly was one for George because he believes that any positive changes in a person's life makes a difference. After retiring he decided that he wanted to continue giving to his community. So George Cook did what he always does, something completely unusual. He decided to join the AmeriCorps program.
Currently, he is an AmeriCorps Volunteer for Neighbor Works of Western Vermont. In that job he works as a Intake/Outreach Specialist helping people find funds for their daily living expenses.
When asked why he didn't just enjoy his retirement George smiled and said, "I do everything backwards so now I am volunteering."
Whether it is working as an AmeriCorps volunteer or refereeing college sports George has a spirit of community that is unbreakable.
Elise Beane didn't start out with the idea of volunteering, in fact, quite the opposite. As a full time working mother and wife she dreamed of a time when she could follow her heart and travel the world. Elise spent her career working with the developmentally disabled for the State of Vermont. It was a job that she found both rewarding and challenging. However, between the needs of her four children and a husband often out to sea with the navy, she had little time for to think about retirement.
But in time her children grew up, married and moved away. All too soon it was over and she was 60 years old. As she prepared for retirement she decided that she would travel which is exactly what she did her first year.
"At first it was exciting but I missed Vermont. I started looking around for something to do. My husband starting volunteering at the VA clinic, but that just wasn't for me. I wanted something else but I didn't know what. Then a friend of mine told me about VISTA, so I did some paperwork and that was it," she said.
Today Elise is happily going through a list of non profits that have VISTA position available. She hasn't decided which agency she would like to work with but she knows it will be one where she is helping people.
As you can see, "encore volunteers" are highly skilled and trained in a variety of fields. What they bring to any non profit is an amazing set of skills mixed with the wisdom that comes with age. Yet again the baby boomers have reinvented themselves. Who knows what they'll do next? One thing is for sure.
We are all along for the ride.
For information on Volunteering
Rutland Regional Medical Center
Georgia Bergen Director of Volunteer Services
Call 747-3857 or email:firstname.lastname@example.org
Deborah Schoch Volunteer Coordinator
Call 747-1675 or email email@example.com
AmeriCorps or VISTA call 1-800-942-2677 or email to