Ozarks Tonight: Springfield Wants Baby Boomers to Give 5

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — We’re joined tonight by Springfield City Manager Greg Burris. And he’s here to talk about a very innovative program called Give 5.

And Greg tells us about this program. You were talking a minute ago before we went on the air about how folks from around the country are asking about what you’re doing here in Springfield, so let us in on the secret.

“Well I think it struck a chord,” Burris said. “There are ten thousand Baby Boomers turning 65 and retiring every day for nineteen years. If you just stop and think about that a little bit. And the U.S. surgeon general said recently the number one health issue with that population is not cancer it’s not heart disease it’s isolation.

“At the same time, you’ve got these mega-trends, where empathy is down in our society. At the same time, funding is down for nonprofits, and so they’re increasingly relying on volunteerism.”

So what are folks giving when they participate in Give 5? 

“So what they’re doing is giving of their time,” Burris said. “These are retiring Baby Boomers, retired Baby Boomers. And what they find is that, I’m the same way, you get so much of your purpose and your meaning of your life in your work. So this brings meaning and purpose back into their lives because they can connect with something in their community.

“Most of us don’t really know what volunteer opportunities are out there, so this is kind of a taste testing, and we let them see behind the curtain at 23 nonprofits. They get a chance to interact, ask questions, and learn what it would be like to work in those, volunteer in those areas. But they also see the need, and so it answers the question of why should I do this. So, if they’re so moved and something has touched their heart, and they say you know I really want to do voluntary Harmony House, or Council of Churches, or Ozarks Food Harvest. Then we just ask that they sign a letter of intent. We have found thus far that everybody is signing up. And they’re not just signing up for one nonprofit; most are signing up for two. In the current class, we have one lady who signed up for five. And so they’re getting really excited because they see the need in the community, and they want to plug in. They want to help.”

You have such a passion for this work. Are you sure you want to leave? In case you don’t know, folks, Greg is leaving his position as city manager after what? Nine and a half years? 

“It will be ten years by the time I’m done,” Burris said.

And congratulations on your accomplishments. If you had one final thought, what would it be?

“I would say that we’re very fortunate here,” Burris said. “We don’t realize how fortunate we are. The fish is the last to realize it’s in water. And so people coming in from other communities coming here recognize what we have, and the benefits we have, while the people who grew up here, like myself, take it for granted. We have a lot of really good things going on, and more to come.”

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