ReServe Pairs Experienced Workers With Nonprofits
Help wanted: a project manager to oversee a senior center's move to a new location; a food pantry cashier; a volunteer coordinator for a county mental health group; and a business development liaison to work with property owners near New York City's Ground Zero.
All these part-time jobs are available now for people 55 and older through ReServe, a 6-year-old agency that pairs retired professionals with more than 300 government agencies and nonprofit groups in the New York City area that can use their skills.
Like similar organizations popping in up in cities around the country, ReServe taps into older adults' interest in staying active after they retire. As the first wave of baby boomers turns 65 this year, the number of people interested in an encore career in community service or other socially relevant work is mushrooming.
Activity at ReServe is a microcosm of that trend. Since 2005, the nonprofit has placed 1,900 people into part-time jobs. This year alone, Executive Director Mary Bleiberg expects to find positions for 625 people who will work at least one month, though the average is seven months, and some "ReServists" are into their second, third or fourth year in a placement. People who end up working with the agency are split almost evenly between 55 to 64 (42 percent) and over 65 (47 percent), Bleiberg says.
Getting a position isn't as simple as logging onto ReServe's online jobs board. Candidates register and attend an introductory workshop before the group vets them to see if they'd be a good fit for available openings. "We've become more selective over the past year because, although we have a certain number of opportunities, we'll never have enough for everyone," Bleiberg says.
While some groups offer unpaid boomer internships for people interested in making the switch from corporate to nonprofit work, the organizations that ReServe helps pay retirees a stipend of $10 an hour for jobs that average about 15 hours a week. "We know that the employers take it more seriously when they have to pay," Bleiberg says. "In this environment, the money matters to the ReServists, too."
In addition to acting as a matchmaking service, ReServe offers retraining and other programs at its headquarters near midtown Manhattan's Bryant Park. In one program, former Wall Street financiers learn how to work as chief financial officers for nonprofits. In another, journalists and copywriters who lost jobs during the recession learn how to write grants for community groups. The organization recently received a grant from AmeriCorps to send 50 retirees to help out as college counselors at high-need high schools in the area.
ReServe recently expanded the area it serves from New York City's five boroughs to neighboring Westchester County. By this summer, Bleiberg expects the organization to branch out further -- and is working with partners in Baltimore and Miami to offer services in those cities. Plans are on the drawing board to open in other cities after that.
"We want to enhance the lives of older adults and strengthen the community," Bleiberg says. "And we have a business model that makes it possible."
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