Gateway Mall will be transformed into a Volunteer Fair to give senior citizens, retirees and their families an opportunity to learn more about volunteer activities on Tuesday, May 14, from 10 a.m. to noon.

Participants will have a chance to explore opportunities to serve as volunteers in the community and talk with representatives of three-dozen organizations they could potentially serve.

During the Volunteer Fair, 35 nonprofit organizations will be present at booths near the Center Court of the mall. This will give people in the community an opportunity to learn what the organizations do and the volunteer needs they have.

The event is a civic service project coordinated and conducted by The Foundry in partnership with Leadership Lincoln, Cause Collective, Aging Partners and Gateway Mall.

“There are so many people in our community who are retiring but not tired and still want to give back in some way," said Randy Hawthorne, executive director of The Foundry. "The Foundry is about building community, and the Just Ask volunteer fair builds our community.” 

The Volunteer Fair is an idea that grew out of a survey of senior citizens conducted by a group of Leadership Lincoln participants.

“Almost 80% of all respondents (of any age) were highly motivated to volunteer as a way of giving back," said Martha Hakenkamp from Aging Partners, who is a Leadership Lincoln alumnus. "Additionally, respondents over the age of 60 indicated that volunteering is an opportunity for them to stay active in the community and meet new people. This suggests that although volunteering is ultimately an altruistic act for most local older adults, there is a strong component of personal gain in terms of health and socialization that is recognized and appreciated.” 

“I’ve found a lot of people are reluctant to take the first step to volunteer for an organization," said Len Sloup, a Leadership Lincoln alumnus. “But if an organization asks them, they’d be glad to help. Conversely, we are also hoping to encourage retirees to ‘Just Ask’ organizations that they have an interest in about volunteer opportunities."

A list of participating nonprofits can be found at www.thefoundry.co/justask.

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L Magazine editor

Mark Schwaninger is L magazine and Neighborhood Extra editor.

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