When we first started thinking about launching Boomerang Giving, we thought of the slogan “Uncage your age!” To us, that meant that those of us over 60 should set aside the cultural and social assumptions about “senior citizens” that work against us remaining or becoming vibrant members of our community.
We quickly realized that it wasn’t a good slogan since most persons our age do not feel caged. On the contrary, we are taking advantage of longer and healthier lives to give back to our communities in some way. For some of us, that means entirely new paid or unpaid careers.
Encore.org calls this our second stage, and Encore promotes second stage careers that enable older Americans to give back in monumental ways. This year their Purpose Prize was awarded to six persons, including Reverend Richard Joyner, who started Corntoe Family Life Center, whose community gardening projects have dramatically improved health in north central North Carolina, and Charles Fletcher, a retired telecommunications executive who has created free therapeutic riding clinics for children with disabilities.
We celebrate those over 60 doing extraordinary things. The Encore Purpose Prize stories are beacons that help light the way for the many smaller efforts made across the country every day by many of us to strengthen our communities.
We all make our own personal decisions about what we can do. One of my friends, Jim Pippard, likes to unload trucks bringing boxes of food to the Food Bank sponsored by a local nonprofit. As Jim says, “It’s all about giving back before we give out!”
The point of Boomerang Giving is to add to the list of things we can all do. Boomeranging our discounts (to the extent that we can afford to do so) can increase the number of us supporting our communities and adds to the ways in which we are able to do so. Passing on the savings from a discounted movie ticket can help a community food bank, just as helping to unload the food delivery trucks does. It lets Jim help the food bank in more than one way – and provides an opportunity for those of us with back problems!
What’s really wonderful is that each element of community support can fit together, creating a collective impact that most communities need. Leaders in twenty or more communities have emailed us at firstname.lastname@example.org to start their planning of Boomerang-inspired giving projects. In many cases, the specific idea of where the biggest boost is needed will come from the older American who is already unloading the boxes at the food bank, driving people to their medical appointments, or helping out at the local child care center.