“Will You Still Need Me When I'm 64?” Maine Volunteer Group Says “Yes!”
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
SOUTH BERWICK, Maine - They're staying active and healthy by volunteering, retired Baby Boomers all over Maine who bring ideas for environmental and community-service projects to the Encore Leadership Corps, or ENCorps, which supports them.
65-year-old Dave Stansfield is heading up a million-dollar fund-raising drive to complete the transformation of an abandoned church in South Berwick into a public library. He likes the networking aspect of ENCorps.
"I think when you get together and see the different kinds of things people are into it really opens your mind a little bit to know, 'Oh, okay, jeez, there's a lot of activities. If I finish this project that I'm working on right now, there's certainly a lot of other stuff that I can find my way into if I choose.'"
ENCorps administrators say they find lots of Boomers who have clung to the ideals of social activism they first embraced in the Sixties who now, with careers and parenting behind them, can dive back in with renewed energy.
Jennifer Crittenden of the Encore Leadership Corps says the program is grassroots, not top-down, in that potential volunteers can bring their own ideas for projects that they have a personal or local interest in.
"Many of our volunteers have lived through the Sixties and remember that time, and some of those same issues that they were passionate about then they're still passionate about now."
Crittenden says a lot of the volunteers are working outdoors on environmental projects, an acknowledgement that older people are often affected most adversely by such things as air pollution.
"It's really encouraging people to get out and be active outside, so that not only are you enjoying your surroundings but you're also improving your health."
ENCorps, for Mainers aged 50 and older, is also a free leadership training program. Its funding, in partnership with the Maine Community Foundation, comes from the Atlantic Philanthropies and the EPA's Aging Initiative, among others.
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