According to CNN, applications by people over 50 to join the service organization have spiked in the past two years. Many applicants are people who went to college, got married and had children right away. However, now that their children are grown and out of the house, they can finally live out a lifelong dream.
A lot of these older volunteers say they want to see the world, but aren’t interested in packaged cruises. They want to experience another culture and be more than just a tourist. If they’re not joining the Peace Corps, many are signing up for volunteer vacations that typically last between two and 12 weeks. These programs are perfect for people who want to get involved, but can’t commit to the 27 months required by the Peace Corps. The nonprofit groups that specialize in these volunteerism trips have seen a surge in interest. Organizations like Cross-Cultural Solutions offers volunteer trips to Russia and Peru, and Global Services Corps coordinates trips to Thailand, Tanzania, and Cambodia for stays between two weeks and a year.
Some of the new volunteers say they’re responding to JFK’s inspiring words, asking them to serve their country. Almost a half a century later, they finally have the time. Other volunteers are motivated by President Obama’s call for change. The President recently signed the Serve America Act, which pours about 6 billion dollars into volunteerism, including programs for older adults and retirees.