Springfield Volunteer Program Encourages Retirees to Engage With Community

Dec 7, 2017

A new Springfield program connects retirees and senior citizens to local non-profit organizations for purposeful volunteerism.

The first Give5 program day started with an orientation at the Springfield Art Museum, then moved to various non-profits throughout the day.
Credit Sarah Teague / KSMU

City Manager Greg Burris said he hopes Give 5 will encourage nonprofits to “rethink volunteerism.” Burris, who is stepping down next year, is likely to take over as Give 5’s director, according to the city.

Burris said many times when an individual retires from a career, they may question what purpose this season of their life has for them.

“So this is civic matchmaking,” Burris said. “This (program) is trying to find people who are looking for that next chapter — that meaning and that significance in their life — along with these nonprofits who have a massive need for volunteers.”

Participants will attend five or six program days organized by the city’s Public Information & Civic Engagement Department, which will act as a class. The program days will include an orientation and will transport the participants to local non-profits to showcase the purpose of each organization and present the help needed.

Burris said on the first program day, Dec. 6, volunteers were taken to The Fairbanks, the Springfield Dream Center and the Convoy of Hope. Future program days will include tours of local hospitals, the Council of Churches of the Ozarks, Ozarks Food Harvest and others.

For the start of the program, Burris said the city picked organizations that focus on some of the city’s main concerns and initiatives, like poverty.

Springfield resident Jackie Mayo said she has been retired for two years. She worked in billing at St John’s Hospital, now Mercy, for 20 years, and served 12 years at the Mckesson Corporation.

Mayo said she is passionate about customer support, and likes to be involved in people’s lives, but spent much of her career working with individuals through the phone. She hopes this program will allow her to work with new people face-to-face.

“I do a lot with my church, but I wanted to also reach out to the community,” Mayo said, “so that’s why I accepted the invitation to come to Give 5 — is so that I can find a place outside of my church community to also volunteer. I just like being involved with people’s lives — making their day better.”

Burris said retirees just like Mayo have skills they gained through their lifelong careers that are useful to the community. Rather than losing those individuals to isolation, the city needs to be celebrating what they have to offer, he said.

“It’s also a chance for our non-profits to completely rethink volunteerism,” Burris said. “Because when you bring people who are retired CEOs, retired bank presidents (or) retired entrepreneurs, you can’t say, ‘Okay, well we’ve got some filing for you to do.’ They won’t come back on the second day.”

By celebrating the contributions of our retired citizens, Burris said, Springfield may become a competitive environment for those looking for purpose after retirement. Burris said Springfield will have a competitive advantage over other mid-sized cities if it learns how to utilize volunteers’ skills to their greatest potential.

“And we become the magnet that a lot of people around the country want to move to when they retire because they say, ‘That’s where you can get engaged with your community,’ and we make it easy, and we make it fun,” Burris said.

Mayo said she she’s excited for the unique opportunity, and jumped at the chance to meet community members.

“I do a lot of giving to Harmony House,” Mayo said. “I love Harmony House, but I’ve never been inside the doors, not that I know if there’s any capacity I could fill there. This (program) is going to give me exposure to many different venues and then I can make my determination about where I would fit best.”

More information, including ways to apply to Give 5, can be found on the program’s webpage.