New volunteer program matches skilled Mid-Missouri retirees, nonprofits

Layne Stracener/News Tribune photo: Hannah Gerard, United Way of Central Missouri operations specialist, said the GIVE 5 program is looking for senior volunteers with specific professional know-how and experiences who will be connected with participating nonprofits that need those skills.

Two Mid-Missouri organizations are looking to do a little matchmaking.

No, they're not looking to find a little love between individuals.

They are looking to match retirees with nonprofit agencies who need volunteers with specific skills and interests.

GIVE 5, a retiree civic matchmaking program in Jefferson City, is a collaboration between the Columbia-based Aging Best and the United Way of Central Missouri.

The program sets to "(reimagine) what volunteering can look like," said Hannah Gerard, local United Way operations specialist. It looks for senior volunteers with specific professional know-how and experiences, then connects them with participating nonprofits that need those skills.

"I know (The) Salvation Army is looking for professionals who are interested in teaching life skills classes to those who are living in their shelters or (Rape and Abuse Crisis Service) is looking for retired healthcare professionals to advocate for their clients," Gerard said.

Another reason United Way launched the voluntary program is due to the state's aging demographic.

"We do have lots of Baby Boomers in our community that are getting ready to retire, with that, they will have a lot of free time on their hands that they can give back to those agencies that really need volunteers," Gerard said.

People aged 60 and older make up a quarter of Missouri's population, according to the latest census data. Another 12 percent of the population is set to retire in this decade as well.

Currently, 16 agencies are participating with United Way. One of them is the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Jefferson City, an organization that holds one-on-one mentoring for schoolchildren. It currently has 120 volunteers, program director Lee Knernschield said.

Big Brothers Big Sisters officials hope GIVE 5 volunteers will become mentors and office assistants with clerical skills to do data entry work. The organization also hopes for "someone who has a marketing background willing to help put together a newsletter," Knernschield said.

"Any individual that can make a commitment to spending consistent time with a child could be a good mentor," she said.

Big Brothers Big Sisters joined the GIVE 5 program because the organization has a small office staff and needs more volunteers, she said.

"There are so many children that need a mentor," Knernschield said.

Meanwhile, Capital City CASA, another participating agency, has not set specific positions for the GIVE 5 members yet, Executive Director Gina Clement said. Depending on the volunteers' skills, they may serve on various committees on financial matters, fundraising and fund development.

So far, United Way received nine applications from volunteers, including retired CEOs, teachers and CPAs, Gerard said. She hoped to recruit 20 volunteers for the program.

The applications, which began in Feb. 9, are open for the rest of the week, Gerard said. Interested retirees or soon-to-be retirees can apply on United Way's website.

The program is scheduled to run for five straight weeks, with one GIVE 5 session on each Wednesday starting from March 29, according to United Way's website.

During these sessions, GIVE 5 volunteers are expected to tour all the participating agencies with Gerard and Jody Doppelt, the volunteer manager at Aging Best. During the tours, each organization is set to have around 45 minutes to give a tour, talk about itself, as well as the general and specific volunteering opportunities it offers to GIVE 5 members, Gerard said.

On the fifth Wednesday, April 26, there is set to be a graduation day where GIVE 5 volunteers are expected to choose one or more nonprofits with which they will serve five hours a month, according to United Way's website.


In the accompanying video, United Way of Central Missouri operations specialist Hannah Gerard talks about the Give Five program.