By Todd Cohen
GREENSBORO, N.C. — With the oldest of the estimated 77 million Baby Boomers born between 1946 and 1964 starting to reach age 60, their needs are changing.
Some Boomers still have children living at home, others are caring for their own parents or even need care for themselves, and many are retiring and looking for volunteer opportunities.
To help address that range of needs, Senior Resources of Guilford County has launched a website for Boomers.
Launched in May and designed by King’s English and Atlantic WebWorks, www.guilfordboomers.org features information and resources about services Boomers need as parents, caregivers, volunteers and senior citizens.
The site, for example, includes interviews with Boomers, a calendar of events for Boomers, and a listing of volunteer opportunities for Boomers.
Boomers also enlarge the size of type on the site to make it easier to read.
The new site reflects an ongoing effort by Senior Resources to provide a “continuum of services” that involve as volunteers people who eventually may become clients, says Ellen Whitlock, executive director.
Formed in 1977, Senior Resources is the largest nonprofit in Guilford County that provides community-based services that promote independent living, Whitlock says.
Operating with an annual budget of $2.7 million and 49 employees, including 19 working full-time and 30 working part-time, the agency offers a range of programs that provide services to seniors and provide them with volunteer opportunities.
The agency fields 8,000 phone calls a year to its information-and-referral line; provides 200 medical rides a month to seniors; assigns 75 low-income seniors to serve as mentors in the schools; operates an RSVP program that places 300 older adults in volunteer positions at hospitals, museums and theaters; delivers 440 meals a day to homebound seniors; and provides a half-day of health-and-wellness activities, and social and recreation programs, to 300 older adults every weekday at 10 nutrition sites.
Senior Resources also offers programs for over 300 refugees and immigrants each month.
Working with refugees, including Montagnaards from Vietnam, Vietnamese, Bosnians and Russian Jews, as well as Koreans who have relocated to the U.S., the agency employs staff members who speak those groups’ languages and can provide assistance with English as a second language, along with citizenship and assimilation skills.
Senior Resources also offers health-and-wellness programming on Saturdays, particularly preventive care, and integrates the refugees and immigrants into its community nutrition sites during the week.
The agency receives half its funds from federal, state and county government; nearly 20 percent from United Way of Greater Greensboro and United Way of Greater High Point; 15 percent from religious congregations; and the remainder from fundraising events and grants.
Whitlock says the new website for Boomers is designed to make the agency more accessible and attractive to a generation that typically has higher expectations.
“They’re used to getting what they want when they want it,” she says.
Engaging Boomers as volunteers will be critical, she says.
“We want to look at how these volunteers are going to stay involved in the community and we want to harness them as a resource for us, and then be prepared to serve them later,” she says.
Research shows that Boomers who have had more education and had children later in life and continued longer in the workforce tend to volunteer more, and those who are involved as volunteers in professional or management roles are more likely to continue to volunteer, Whitlock says.
“They want to use their professional talents, and they’re looking for more challenging assignments,” she says.
“What the country is going to see is an increasing demand for services as more and more of us age,” she says. “So what we want to do is help lay a foundation so that the Boomers know where they can get information and assistance about community services.”