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Peter Yedidia likes to tell a volunteering story about why it's important to stay positive. But first make sure you have shoes on.
Years ago, Yedidia, a Bay Area resident, was helping to mediate a dispute where a next door neighbor's barking dog was keeping a young family up at night. The situation got worse one night when the young mother went out to quiet the dog on their shared back deck -- only to slip and fall on a pile of dog poop!
The day was saved, as Yedidia recalls, when it was discovered that the dog owner also ran the local Italian restaurant. When the owner had to work late, his lonely dog was left home barking.
It turned out the restaurant was the aggrieved family's favorite, and after several gift certificates and hearty meals, the family volunteered to keep the dog at their place on the evenings the restaurant owner worked late.
"The message might be, even when you have doubts about the outcome, go forward with good intentions and things may well work out," Yedidia said.
Doubtless, Yedidia's optimism is a big part of his commitment to giving back.
A year out from selling his health care management and survey research firm, the avid world traveler now volunteers a couple of days each week through the Taproot Foundation.
The Taproot Foundation assembles teams of skilled professionals like Yedidia who help local nonprofits develop marketing materials, databases, or human resources projects. In addition to qualifying the needs of nonprofits that apply for help and then recruiting the volunteer teams, Taproot has project management tools to help its volunteer teams stay on target.
Helping nonprofits isn't new for Yedidia -- previously he served on civic committee and healthcare boards, and going way back he was a Peace Corps volunteer -- but his new involvement represents a more profound shift for Yedidia: freedom to invent the next stage of his life.
Like previous generations of older adults, retirement has given Yedidia the time to try new things. Unlike those generations, today's older adults are much more likely to want to try new experiences that will also be challenging personally or draw on professionally developed skills, as well as have positive impact for a cause.
In this case, the cause is Prescott-Joseph Center for Community Enhancement and Yedidia's team is working on branding project for the Oakland, CA-based nonprofit.
For example, when he describes what he likes about his Taproot project, Yedidia sounds much like a consultant describing a successful business engagement.
"It's a combination of working with talented volunteers to provide the client with a product that will hopefully make them even more effective in serving their constituents," he said.
Yedidia also represents a relatively new direction for Taproot. Until recently, the organization focused efforts on recruiting working professionals to volunteer. Today, however, Taproot is just as apt to bring a seasoned retiree to a project.
Yedidia thinks that makes perfect sense. "I think the 'old timers' can add a lot to an organization like Taproot," he said.
So is there anything older adults should keep in mind when thinking about volunteering?
"You really do have a lot to contribute, and you'll get back in satisfaction as much as you give," he said.
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