Real people Real Experiences

Boomer to Bust?


For those of us engaged in our communities, one of the first places you’ll go is one of the service clubs. Historically, they have done great work. They get together for breakfast or lunch. Socialize, and generally have a speaker who is involved in serving the community.

Lions see that the poor get eye exams and glasses. The Rotary Club has been a huge force for the eradication of Polio. The Kiwanis club is in service to children everywhere. The Shriners run free hospitals for children.

The community leaders in the room are generally not there for the cuisine. It’s about service and people, it’s not about the lunch.

When you look around the meetings you’ll see lots of grey hairs. The bulk of the members are north of 68 years old. Then, a group of Millennials and Generation Z.

But the boomers? Missing. The “Me” generation who had these fine institutions handed to us on a silver platter by our greatest generation parents are no where to be found.

Too busy? I don’t think so. Too self indulgent is more like it. For the record, it’s MY generation, and I’m ashamed and embarrassed.

Generation Z seems to get it, and they are showing up in droves. They are also pissed off. They want to know how WE let it get that way.

We broke it. We didn’t show up. We deluded ourselves into building a moat around our personal time and not around the great things we could do in our communities, and with and for our families.

So these essential organizations are failing. The millennials are demanding that the government does something about it. Gen Z expects the non-joining, rapidly approaching retirement boomers to keep it alive long enough for them to take over.

Speaking for my generation, I could not get them to engage two decades ago, and I’m sure as hell not going to be able to now. Those of us who will are already engaged, and likely doing as much as we can without impacting our vocations. The rest are home watching the game on TV. They don’t join, and they don’t help. They just expect things to be done for them, and handed to them.

The people who “do” are the same folks who do things in their church, their school board, their community. It’s the do-ers. They are typically older boomers, and they have been doing it for decades. They were expected to by their parents.

But on top of that, they know a secret. You get more than you give, when you volunteer. Whatever you do, or donate, you get back many fold. It’s the secret known to those of us who are engaged with our communities.

I require senior management in my company to pick a service club and join. The guy who runs my apartment rental company thought it was flat out stupid. Then he warmed to the idea. Now, he’s president elect of his club. He is a millennial, one that knows how to add value.

My generation is guilty, and I apologize. Rotary. Lions. Kiwanis. Shriners. Look around the room. Lots of Vietnam vets. Few from the rest of the boomers.

The real question is going to be will there be enough of Generation Z coming out of the woodwork to save these essential community service organizations before they implode?

I hope so.

Dolph Santorine is mildly observant, continually pissed off, and currently a member of the Lions Club, Kiwanis and a Shriner.

3 replies »

  1. Alva Myrdal devised Social Security as a form of population control. Thinking being if you had a pension you wouldn’t feel the need to have kids to take care of you. Prommu be, we ain’t got nuff kids to pay the pensions. So we should raise retirement to ninety minus five years for every natural kid.


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