One of the reasons I love my job is that I get to hear from people all the time about their experiences and reactions to doing something meaningful in the second half of life. So many who have left their corporate jobs have experienced a sense of isolation and feeling like they are not doing anything useful. A friend of mine who just started volunteering with kids told me that she was totally unprepared for what she learned from these young girls and the incredible benefits she was receiving. She now feels more energized and excited about getting up every day. It turns out there are hundreds of others who are feeling the same way about working with kids in their community.
On the flip side, I have spoken to numerous CEOs of local youth-serving organizations who have recognized the value that older adults bring to the children they are serving.
I wanted to share with you a new report that was just published by Generations United- “I Need You, You Need Me – The Young and the Old and What We Can Achieve”. The report begins by recognizing the barriers that exist when bringing together the young and the old. We live in an age segregated society where over 25% of all neighborhoods contain a high proportion of older adults (senior communities) and 31% contain children and families. This was not true in the last century when it was not uncommon for generations to live together under one roof or in the same neighborhood. This age segregation has led the way to ageism and silos where each generation is misunderstood or mislabeled. Generations United and Encore.org are focusing on ways to embrace and adapt programs and an environment where the young and old can unite.
Why the Young and Old Must Unite
Twenty one percent of our youth today are in poverty and another 22% are very near poverty. This segment is more likely to suffer academically and emotionally while their parents are struggling to survive. At the same time, older adults are looking for meaning and not sure where to go to find that pathway. As mentioned in my own friends’ experience, when we find ways to integrate young and old, we begin to address the isolation and relational poverty experienced by both generations.
The Generations United report also highlights exceptional examples of intergenerational programs and testimonials that are truly uniting the young with the old. Most important, the report focuses on specific actions like advocacy, volunteering or starting a local project to help a youth that can be taken to help foster this intergenerational integration.
Generation to Generation Tampa Bay
We are thrilled and honored to be doing our part in this intergenerational movement by becoming an official Intergenerational Impact Zone under the umbrella of the Generation to Generation campaign launched by Encore.org. We are in the process of selecting our youth-serving pilot partners and outreach organizations. Over the next two years we will provide an Entrepreneurial Lab that will create more efficient and effective ways of mobilizing and engaging older adults in a variety of different youth-serving roles. This model will be tested and documented so that other nonprofits in our community can benefit from this new recruiting/engagement model.
What can you do to unite the young and the old in your community, leave a legacy and live a life on purpose?
It starts by TAKING ACTION AND GETTING INVOLVED. Here are just a few opportunities:
- Tell us about other organizations or efforts in the Tampa Bay community that are bringing together the young and the old. (adopting schools, showcasing local organizations such as New Life Village, etc.)
- Join our Generation to Generation Tampa Bay team as we put together all the key pieces and players to launch our initiative (areas such as research/evaluation, social media, and community outreach). We also need a Gen2Gen Story reporter- to interview and write short blogs about people and programs in our community that are uniting the young and old.
- Make a financial contribution to Encore Tampa Bay to help fund the Generation to Generation campaign. (Yes, we need to raise money to make this program work)
- Check out www.generationtogeneration.org and take the Summer Challenge. Enter your zip code and you will see many opportunities, starting right now, to volunteer right in your own backyard.
- Don’t forget to look at the other ways to unite the young and the old in the Generations United Report.
“ As a society, we tend to believe that each generation is an insular one, and that the interests of each are unique and separate from those of others. But now more than ever, people young and old must join forces to address problems that affect both of their communities.”