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A new program gives Missouri seniors a way to lend their skills and stave off isolation

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Elissa Garcia

The Mid-America Regional Council's "Give 5" program hopes to lessen the effects of the "silver tsunami" by giving retirees a way to contribute their time and talents to the nonprofit sector.

A "silver tsunami" is hitting the U.S., and with it a loss of a generation of skilled labor and institutional knowledge.

The silver tsunami refers to the large number of Baby Boomers reaching retirement age, creating an exodus of experience and leadership in the labor market, according to Melody Elston, interim director of aging and adult services at Mid-America Regional Council (MARC).

While retirement is a well-earned opportunity to rest, it can leave some senior adults prone to social isolation, which comes with its own health consequences — a physical toll equivalent to that of heavy smoking.

"The impact of being alone and not having those type of interactions daily or even someone to identify some cognition deficits or if you have any other types of loss in movement or mobility, it can really impacts your well being and your overall wellness," Elston says.

Give 5, a new program through MARC, is working to keep senior adults socially engaged by contributing their skills and time to the nonprofit sector.

"[S]taying engaged is very important as we age," Lauren Schaumburg, community engagement specialist for MARC's aging and adult services. "[T]his is a great opportunity to do that and do that with a skill that you've already built."

Give 5 participants are asked to "commit to at least five hours of service per month with one of our organizations," Schaumburg says.

Participants will go through a series of five classes, which provide information on trends and inclusion in the service community, followed by a tour of nonprofits seeking volunteers.

Schaumburg says the nonprofits are encouraged to think beyond labor needs and utilize the senior volunteer's already established talents such as market, finance or mentoring skills.

Classes begin in April, and registration is required. For more information visit MARC.org/give5.

  • Melody Elston, interim director of aging and adult services, Mid-America Regional Council
  • Lauren Schaumburg, community engagement specialist, Mid-America Regional Council
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