Our son was involved in Boy Scouts and earned his Eagle Scout rank. At the time he was in Scouts, the Wall Street Journal ran an article that called Eagle Scout projects the “largest single youth-service project in history” and that they had touched “every community in America in an important way”.
Discussion of the Scout’s tradition of service came up recently when I was talking with some new friends (and a couple MrFireStation readers) at a backyard ‘brewfest’. One attendee is the current Scoutmaster of my son’s old Scout Troop, but everyone in the group was involved with a non-profit of one sort or the other. I’ve been quite involved with our metro zoo foundation for more than 15 years, along with some other activities.
Two of the guys shared their experience helping to lead a growing organization that collects and refurbishes old bicycles throughout our metro area. They pick-up and fix-up the bikes during the course of the year and sell them at a big bike sale each spring. The money they raise goes directly to two charities. They turned an incredible 600+ bikes last year and over the course of a decade, they’ve raised an amazing $250K. Each year the initiative draws increasing visibility – leading to increased growth.
With the level of involvement so many have, I was surprised to see in a recent Age Wave / Merrill Lynch study that only about 25% of people 55+ volunteer for any charity in the course of the year. I expected it to be a lot higher than that, as I see one of the roles of retirement as one’s ‘Lifestage of Service’. Not everyone has the good health needed to do a lot volunteer work, but there seems to be opportunities in all shapes & sizes.
Fortunately, those that do volunteer do a lot of it. The study estimates they donate about 135 hours of their time each year. That’s 2x – 2.5x what younger folks are able to do. All together retirees (who represent about 25% of the American population) contribute ~45% of the nation’s volunteer hours. Along with their charitable giving, these generous souls are expected to contribute an astounding $8 trillion in time, talent, & treasure over two decades.
That is certainly an unparalleled ‘Lifestage of Service’ that any Eagle Scout would salute!
What volunteer activities are you involved in as part of your FIRE lifestyle?
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