Ageism and Volunteering

Last evening I attended an interesting, enlightening, verging on daunting, film screening and discussion on climate change. More on that in a future blog. Most of the audience – several councillors representing Wolfville and Kings County, the remainder area residents – were in their early sixties and older. There was one Horton High School Student and a couple of people who appeared to be in their 40’s. Needless to say most of us were in the “older” category. During the discussion that followed one participant noted the average age of the group and that our generation had caused the problem and wouldn’t be around to fix it., further or therefore, this is really something best addressed by the younger generations.

Try as I might not to get defensive when I hear this type of comment (all too often) e.g., look around this church in 20 years everyone will be dead or We need younger people in this – you name the service club – or soon it will be all over. Just as I was contemplating the pros and cons of saying something or biting my tongue Councillor Raven of Kings County did say just the right thing. Something to the effect that while the average age might be early 60’s most of us had 20 years left where we could make significant differences. Thank you Pauline!

In my 20’s, 30’s, 40″s and 50’s I was variously going to school, having and raising children, starting and maintaining a business, attending to my career and profession, and trying to make enough money to secure my “older” years. My opportunities and frankly energy and interest to contribute to my community was significantly constrained by these more immediate needs at various ages and stages of my life.

So while I think it is wonderful (don’t we all) when younger people choose to be part of service clubs, volunteer in community activities other than those of their children, run for municipal council, I understand this might not be where they can put a lot of their energy – I know I couldn’t. But now I can. Now so can the many retired or semi-retired people who formed the local refugee support groups, who run the Rotary Toonie Toss, who organize and operate the community festivals, the church Christmas Teas etc.

I think it would be refreshing to stop bemoaning the fact that so many community volunteers are “older”, start seeing this as the opportunity within a particular stage of a lifetime, and realize that if this generation of community volunteers can contribute as my colleague says “20 good years”, there will still be an earth and communities left for those who will reach this age of volunteer prime 20 years from now, and so on and so on….

2 comments

  1. Well said. With so many families with both parents working they have little time.
    Just one error. You said when you were in your 30s,40s and 50s. You can`t fool us—we know you are in your early 40s

    Liked by 1 person

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