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Two problems, one solution
Corporate volunteering can give community a boost
Veronica, editorial
Veronica Coons

In the Great Bend Better than Great Community Vision Plan, the need to address a growing generation gap in the community was noted. 

About half of the population in this community is under the age of 24 or over the age of 65, it states. The number of those over the age of 65 is expected to grow. Great Bend needs to find ways to bridge its generational gap. Somehow, we need to create pathways between our young and middle-aged professionals and our seniors. 

Meanwhile, according to RSVP of Central Kansas and Meals on Wheels Director Lynn Hogg, there’s a desperate need for volunteers to deliver meals to our community’s elderly population. There are currently waiting lists in both Great Bend and Hoisington of those who wish to be on a Meals on Wheels route, and the list is only expected to grow in the future. But there aren’t enough volunteers to add a route. 

One possible solution to the Meals on Wheels problem could also offer a solution to the generation gap issue in this community. 

“A solution would be for five businesses to come forward and pick one day a week to deliver,” Hogg suggested. “When a business chips in they could tap five, 10 or 15 volunteers to help. That would mean only delivering every fifth, 10th or 15th chosen day of the week.”

Work culture has a lot of influence in our lives. Case in point is how the trend in corporate wellness plans incentivize things like smoking cessation, prioritizing annual wellness exams, and even seeking assistance with weight loss in order to bring down the cost of health insurance for employees. People who once thought they didn’t have time to take actions like these are finding ways to make the time, and we’re all benefitting. 

Business leaders who find a way to encourage volunteering have the potential to make a real difference in their communities. Providing opportunities for employees to give back to the community encourages engagement which in turn can boost business growth. This, according to Margaret Jacoby, author of “Practical Tools to Manage Costly Employee Turnover.” 

Jacoby also writes that workplace volunteering also boosts employee pride, productivity, gratitude and ethics. What business wouldn’t benefit from this? 

Focusing on our elderly population by reaching out as groups throughout the week to help fill two true needs, nourishment and companionship, takes a higher degree of commitment probably than we may be used to, but it’s doable. We have the vision to see what we need to do to make our communities better. The question is, will we take action?