Chapter 17. Volunteering in Retirement Getting Engaged

In 2009, pollster john zogby asked 4,000 Americans to answer this question: "What will be the historic legacy of baby boomers?" The responses were unflattering. Forty-two percent said boomers had "ushered in an era of consumerism and self-indulgence." Another 27 percent gave boomers credit for helping to "bring lasting change in social and cultural values and ending a war." After that, the answers ranged from "nothing really special" to "other" or "not sure."[109] The loose translation: "Your generation might have done some good things back in the 1960s and 1970s, but where have you been lately?"

The Greatest Generation. The Silent Generation. And now the Overindulgent, Self-Centered Generation. Doesn't sound too good, does it? It's an unfair and harsh assessment, to be sure. Still, many boom-ers are preparing to rewrite those poll results as they move into the next part of their lives. Even before the Great Recession began, many already were refocusing their energies on leaving a positive legacy for future generations. The trend has intensified as the country faces intense, simultaneous crisis and upheaval—a depressed economy, national security and environmental threats, and the need to revamp our health-care and education systems. "The needs in the country and in our communities are more stark and present and in the news," says John Gomperts, president of Civic Ventures, a not-for-profit think tank focused on civic engagement. ...

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