Pt. III: The Elders


It can’t be emphasized enough: attracting older volunteers is the key to your life. You might find that at first, your volunteers are young — just out of college. But as much as we love these young volunteers, their schedules change a lot, and they move a lot, and… Sometimes they are not quite as reliable as, say, a retired person.

Retired people are the greatest. It’s okay to stereotype them with a series of compliments, yes? They show up on time. They show up every time. They are incredibly patient. They are wise. Very often they are retired educators. They show us all how to be.

And the beautiful thing is that the students respect them. They create a calming atmosphere — the average 7-year-old is less likely to misbehave around a grandmother or grandfather. Retired people have a wonderfully calming effect on every room.

So how do you find and recruit these elders? Well, many cities have specific agencies that place retired volunteers in nonprofits. And of course volunteer agencies in general can always be asked to directed elders your way. Lastly, and this is common-sensical in the extreme, but if you happen to find a retired volunteer or two, encourage them to bring their friends.