Aging Agenda for
Houston-Harris County
"Moving Toward an Elder Friendly Future"

Civic Engagement/Volunteerism and Employment

Enable and encourage people over the age of 55 years to seek civic engagement, employment and volunteer opportunities as they choose.

Civic Engagement/Volunteerism
There are vast opportunities for persons 55 years and older, working or retired, to volunteer in the Houston–Harris County community.
Short-term, long-term, one-time, and recurring assignments are all available. Local nonprofit agencies, national organizations, public and government groups, neighborhood civic clubs, and the medical and educational communities welcome and value older volunteers whose skills and years of experience improve the quality of their service. In addition, some local corporations promote volunteerism among
retired staff by matching dollars to the number of hours spent volunteering at local nonprofit agencies.

But while opportunities abound, it is difficult to pinpoint how many community volunteers there are who are 55 years of age or older; as most of the nonprofit agencies contacted only track volunteer data for internal reports and do not ask or capture the age of their volunteers. There is no local database in the Houston–Harris County community that tracks the age of volunteers. The best national data come from Volunteer Match and the Corporation for National and Community Service, which maintains detailed data on its volunteers because age is the main criterion for its programs.

The number of older volunteers is expected to decline over the next five to ten years as more people continue to work later in life or have family commitments, such as caring for a loved one, that limit the time they have to devote to community service. However, it is important to highlight current volunteer and employment opportunities in order to enhance programs in the future.

Houston has a strong employment market (see indicators below), but the workforce is feeling the effect of losing older employees to retirement. The loss of experienced workers from the Baby Boom generation is of great concern for nonprofit organizations, corporations, and other units. In fact, some are asking their retirees to continue working at least part-time or as contractors after they retire. Nationally, employment in men and women age 65–69 years has been increasing over the last decade according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Of course, older persons who have not prepared well for their retirement may have to work longer to support themselves.

There are a few agencies in the Houston–Harris County community dedicated to helping persons 55 and older find training and employment. Unfortunately, many of these agencies have income thresholds that limit use of available services.

For more information contact:

Janice Paul, PhD
Houston Department of Health and Human Services
713-794-2965 (phone)

© 2009 HCAAA