By Dean McFarland
Only about a quarter of the population chooses to volunteer once a year.
That is far removed from the not-too-distant past. Finding volunteers is becoming exceedingly more difficult for organizations specializing in helping those in need or providing some type of low-cost assistance.
With the aging population growing at a record pace of some 10,000 per day reaching 65, the need has never been greater. With advancements in medical treatments and medicine, along with people paying more attention to their health care, we are living longer, which is creating more demand on savings.
As I drive through the county I see many homes in need of basic maintenance such as painting, yard work, mold on siding, roofing and other items lacking attention. The pride of ownership, for those physically able to do the work, seems to be disappearing. In many cases it is not just the elderly struggling to maintain their home, but the younger families with children and very busy lifestyles (along with limited skills) to complete the work.
I believe that the rushed lifestyles of today’s younger families are creating little time to train children about home maintenance and the skills to complete same. With both husband and wife working (many more than 40 hours) it seems easier to just pay to have the work done. This leaves no opportunity to educate children in the important skills and home maintenance.
I remember when I was just 10 years old, learning how to paint on my grandparents’ farm home in Brookfield, Ohio. It was a typical farm house of wood lap siding and wood windows. We traveled three hours from our home in Toledo, Ohio, to complete the work in three days. The out-house, (crescent moon and all) still functioned, even though my father had installed an inside bath some years earlier.
Saturday at our home was always a work day. Painting, remodeling, yard work, washing the car and polishing it; were just some of the activities. Many times we helped those in our neighborhood that needed the help. Typical work was yard work, gutter cleaning, pulling screens to install storm windows and other items. Helping others in need was part of life for us and basic training for me as to helping others. We also spent time in our local church with maintenance work on Saturdays.
I am thankful that my parents took the time to develop my beginning skills and the good learning experience with helping others. I believe that the desire to help those in need must be part of a child’s education for it to be part of their adult life. Today when recruiting help to complete home maintenance projects, I find the past volunteers have grown older and no longer have the energy to complete the work they did in the past. The middle age group is busy with school activities with their children on weekends and other valid activities.
With those over 65 retiring each day from their career schedules, I wonder how (for those with health issues) they are going to be able to maintain their homes without volunteer help. For many, no children live in the area any longer to help, and I believe we are beginning to see the results with the condition of their homes.
We must take time to help others in need even when it may cause a minor change to our individual schedules. This country was founded many years ago with “people helping people,” and it has proven itself many times over. We were created to help each other and its past time to get back to the practice.
Dean McFarland is a member of the Hancock County Council on Aging. Send comments to dr-editorial@greenfield reporter.com.