A civic matchmaking program founded in Springfield has been shown in a study to help participants gain a sense of purpose, satisfaction, and increased self-acceptance in a study conducted by Missouri State emeritus professors.
The Give 5 Program, currently administered by the United Way of the Ozarks, aims to match retirees age 60 and older with local nonprofit organizations who have volunteer opportunities. Over a five week period, participants in each Give 5 “class” will socialize and learn about different aspects and needs within the community and then participate in a bus tour of 23 different nonprofit organizations.
The study showed that participants in the program felt: increase in responsibility to the community, connection to the community, knowledge of community needs, empathy for underserved populations, trust of nonprofits, social interaction, and gained new information.
Of the first 5 “classes” of the Give 5 program, just over 80% were still volunteering after six months, with an average of 17 hours of volunteer work per person. Almost 57% had donated money to one or more area nonprofit groups, although financial giving is not something participants are asked to do during the program. The participants almost unanimously said they would recommend the program to others and 95% had actually made at least one recommendation.
Nonprofit groups involved with Give 5 say that an estimated $300,000 in time value has been donated to their groups through the program.
“The questions specifically addressing the Give 5 Program plainly demonstrate its effectiveness in meeting the goals of the program as well as benefiting those who participate in the program,” Dr. Gloria Galanes, one of the study’s researchers, said in a statement. “Participants were so moved by the experience that 95.2% encouraged others to go through the Give 5 experience and all of them encouraged others to engage in some form of volunteering. Moreover, participants gave not only of their time, but also of their money to help area nonprofit agencies.”
The study’s other researcher, Dr. Bradley Fisher, said the study showed a “clear link” between volunteerism and countering many of the problems faced by older residents.
“In later life, it is easy to become isolated due to widowhood, illness, or not feeling welcomed by younger members of society,” Dr. Fisher said in a statement. “Volunteerism is an avenue through which people can regain or maintain a sense of purpose and value, learn more about others in diverse circumstances, and make new friends as they work with others to solve the problems within a community.”
The Give 5 program has over 140 graduates since its inception in December 2017. The program currently has a waiting list for future classes. More information about the program can be found on the Give 5 website.
Here is the actual study:Give-5-Research-Report-2019