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J Gerontol Soc Work. 2018 Apr;61(3):313-333. doi: 10.1080/01634372.2018.1433259. Epub 2018 Feb 13.

Motivation to volunteer among senior center participants.

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a Graduate School of Social Work , Fordham University , New York , N.Y. , USA.


Senior centers in the United States play a vital role in the aging continuum of care as the focal points of a community-based system of services targeting independent older adults to promote their social integration and civically engagement. Although several studies have evaluated the diversity of senior center programs, demographic characteristics of participants, and benefits of participation, very few have explored motivations to volunteer among participants. Many senior centers rely on a cadre of participants who volunteer there to assist with programs and meal services. However, a systematic examination of volunteering interests and the rationale for volunteering among senior center participants has been missing from the literature. This mixed-methods study, conducted at a large suburban senior center, explores the interests and motivations of volunteerism among the participants. The study found that there was limited interest in volunteering among senior center participants. Those who were motivated to volunteer wanted to do so in order to stay connected with their community. There was strong interest in volunteering for single events or projects rather than a long-term commitment. Implications for senior centers are discussed.


Volunteerism; civic engagement; senior centers; socialization

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