Since ReServe, an organization that matches professionals over 55 with meaningful part-time work, officially launched its Greater Boston affiliate in early 2013, it has had hundreds of older adults raise their hand to learn how to get involved.
Carol Greenfield, director of ReServe Greater Boston, credits the positive reaction to the way in which the organization is responding to two overlapping market trends: The growth in boomers who are eager to utilize their talents for the greater good and the fact that non-profits and the public sector are being asked to do more with fewer resources. “We provide the framework to connect these community needs with our community assets – older adults,” said Greenfield.
ReServe helps a wide range of non-profits and public agencies tap into affordable talent to fill crucial staffing gaps and advance their goals with part-time specialists – often retirees or unemployed workers who want to continue to contribute to their communities. Called “ReServists,” these older adults come from all walks of life – accountants, IT professionals, writers, teachers, lawyers and more – and fill positions for 10 to 20 hours per week for a minimum of three months. The organizations benefiting from this expertise pay ReServe $15 per hour of which $10 per hour is paid to the ReServist.
“This is an age group that is literally booming,” said Greenfield. “They’re feeling healthier, living longer and more highly educated, and they want to use this stage of their life to do something purposeful.”
The model offers a win-win proposition: Enhancing the life of older adults while strengthening communities. ReServists value their experience because the work gives them the opportunity to make good use of their professional skills, to learn new skills, to receive a stipend and at the same time provides social interaction. As a result, the majority of ReServists in a recent survey said they have an improved sense of well-being and personal value as well as an increased desire to give back through volunteer/service work.
JVS helped bring the program to Greater Boston in collaboration with the nonprofit Discovering What’s Next. The Tufts Health Plan Foundation provided a multi-year grant as part of its focus on furthering purposeful engagement in older adults.
Since ReServe launched in New York in 2005, the organization has placed more than 3,000 ReServists in more than 300 nonprofit and public organizations in seven cities across the country. In the past year, more than 400 professionals age 55 or older have attended ReServe Greater Boston First Impressions information sessions and more than 200 have applied and been accepted into the program. ReServe Greater Boston plans to place 50 older adults in jobs in 2014 and 75 in 2015.
To increase the likelihood of a successful match, ReServe works closely with the hiring organizations to craft a position that will work best for the pool of experienced, part-time older adults it serves. ReServe also guides older adults through the online application process, which includes detailed information about the person’s background and skills and how the individual might want to utilize this experience as a ReServist.
Some successful matches in Boston to date include an experienced IT professional who’s supporting a Chinatown non-profit with a database management project; an MIT entrepreneur who’s serving as a volunteer coordinator for the City of Boston’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program; and a development coordinator who’s helping a professional association boost its membership. In addition, several area nonprofits that focus on older adults, such as HEARTH and Ethos, have engaged the services of a ReServist, yet an additional demonstration of their commitment to purposeful engagement as a key to healthy aging.
In August 2013, ReServe Greater Boston received a one year grant from the MetroWest Health Foundation to provide focused outreach for the program in MetroWest communities.
This story was published originally in the Tufts Health Plan Foundation’s February 26, 2013 newsletter and updated in November 2013.