January 30th, 2007
Actually American teens, boomers, and seniors are, according to today’s Christian Science Monitor, which ran an article called “Why volunteerism has reached historic high in US.”
It’s encouraging to see that 29 percent of Americans are lending a hand these days, no doubt driven by the realization that there’s more to life than staff meetings and stock options. Check out these excerpts:
…companies, including CVS, Best Buy, and The Home Depot, are giving employees time to volunteer and are rewarded with more productivity and higher retention rates…
“Americans want something more than a 9-to-5 job,” says Annmarie Emmet of Washington, who joined the Peace Corps at age 71. A retired government banker who never married, Ms. Emmet began volunteering at the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial Wall 18 years ago. In 2002, she journeyed to the African nation of Lesotho, where she spent two years helping those affected by the AIDS crisis. Her reason for volunteering is simple: She enjoys helping people.
“So many people sit in front of a computer in an office, and I feel sorry for them,” Emmet says. “I think so many people go to real 9-to-5-type jobs and don’t find a lot of reward in it, and I think maybe being able to help someone or maybe being able to offer something that is not expected, that can make people feel good.”
Yeah, but this woman is retired. I do wish the article had focused a bit more on recent grads who’ve just entered the workforce and want to do something other than park their rear in the cube for the next several decades but also need to make a living. Because merging service and commerce can be done, by starting your own social enterprise, doing paid work overseas, taking a volunteer vacation, etc.
You don’t have to look far to find younger women blending service work with a paycheck in the US and abroad. Sites like The REAL Hot 100 and There’s More to Life Than Shoes are filled with ‘em. And I interviewed many women for the book who have made a full-time or side career out of helping others, on just about every continent, too. If you have the book, check out chapters 7 and 8, on work that helps people and/or feeds your wanderlust.