Statement Of Marjorie Buchanan
Environmental Protection Agency
Aging Initiative Public Listening Session
May 7, 2003
University of Maryland, Center on Aging
I am one of the aging baby boomer nurses mentioned earlier. I have, in fact, spent a lifetime in public health and am part of that cohort of 77 million baby boomers. I know many of you have addressed the issue of the vulnerabilities and needs and demographic shifts that are approaching but here is another perspective. Before I do that, I would like to acknowledge Dr. Laura Wilson, Director of the Center on Aging at the University of Maryland. She is the founder and creator of a particular model that actually speaks to the particular resources that Secretary Roesser mentions in her remarks that bode well for the future of this country by tapping into on their very unique time and talents. I am delighted to see this wonderful intersection of aging and environment because often sectors do not have the opportunity to work collaboratively, and I think new opportunities will emerge from this one. Many people here today represent the nonprofit sector, and they are being called upon to address many of the need and vulnerabilities of this aging population, however, there is a new social positive that goes along with this. That is the potential volunteerism and civic engagement of this population. Older persons are truly an untapped resource. They bring vast wisdom and experience. This is a rapidly growing cohort of 77 million people that bring skills, education and experience that can be brought to bear in the entire non-profit sector. They can be a new resource. It is a rich attribute of our society. We have to rethink how to attract the baby boomers and how to keep them involved to achieve the outcomes that the non-profit organizations and the government are seeking. The Center on Aging has developed a Legacy Leadership Model that draws on the time and talents of the boomer generation. Those active individuals and all of their talents can be a contribution to the science, technology, health, labor sectors. Environmental organizations can also benefit from this. Baby boomers can supplement the work of paid staff, expand the infrastructure and enrich the capabilities of the organization. But we must rethink this. Their volunteerism experience must be a quality experience. Organizations must create new paradigms to draw upon this new and exciting resource. So we ask that EPA consider this as they develop programs and services on behalf of older Americans but also using them and drawing on their time and talents.