The theater's director of development, Marcia Halstead, who oversees its volunteers, says that she saw an untapped resource simply waiting to be developed.
asked the charity's helpers for their input."Once we called the volunteers together, they were quick to say that they could do any number of things," says Ms. Halstead
."In fact, one of our senior volunteers has taken it upon himself to create a speaker's bureau for us."The first volunteer-organized fund-raising event, spearheaded by the older volunteers, is slotted for the spring, a fashion show highlighting some of the theater's costumes.
Phoenix is a major retirement destination -- in some neighborhoods residents age 55 and older make up more than 60 percent of the population, according to the U.S. Census.And Ms. Halstead
has noticed people in their late 50s and early 60s volunteering more."We are getting younger and younger retired volunteers, who have had full professional lives and who are really bringing an amazing amount of professional expertise to us," she
Older volunteers face no more limitations in serving charities than do other supporters, says the Arizona Theatre Company's Ms. Halstead
."In fact, less limitations because we find them really willing to explore and to add skills to their repertoires," she
"It used to be when you thought of seniors, you thought of little, white-haired people who didn't want to stand up for long periods of time," says Ms. Halstead
"People just need to be candid with the volunteer coordinator about what they can do and what they can't," Ms. Halstead
says."Make it safe, make it comfortable for the volunteers to say 'I have a limitation' without feeling like they can't volunteer or that they're going to be a drag on the project." She
suggests asking the volunteers what they would like to do, rather than assigning them a task that they may not feel comfortable with."I say something along the lines of, 'You know, this job involves a lot of standing.Is that something you think you would like?I know my feet are always tired at the end of the day, so personally I would want a job that involved a chair, '" says Ms. Halstead
But once the training is done, and the expectations are set, Ms. Halstead
older volunteers for their reliability."When they make a commitment, it's a commitment, and you can set your clock by our seniors," she