I suspect that when many of us in Sisters Country read, listen to or watch the local and national news we often say rhetorically, out-loud or simply to ourselves, “Wow, something needs to be done. But what can I do?” . . . and then move on to the next article.

I want to convince you that there IS something you can do. I would like you to take a chance, step out of your comfort zone, and take action. Harkening back to what became a bumper sticker slogan in the 1960s, “Think Globally – Act Locally.”

Get involved: Give some of your time, energy, and accumulated knowledge to help your fellow Sisters Country residents have a better life.

I’ve been in Sisters Country for more than a decade. It has been my experience that the residents of Sisters Country give far more freely of their time, money, and expertise than most typical rural or urban communities.

I’ve personally given time and energy to a number of volunteer opportunities in Sisters Country, and for me, the personal rewards keep me coming back for more.

Although the volunteer workforce of Sisters Country includes many very effective and vital volunteers under 50 years old, I am going to focus this discussion on those of my own demographic, the 50-plus group.

Here are some reasons why: Recent research shows that 80 percent of adults say that making the world a better place for the next generation is an important priority. This same research found that the United States today possesses the fastest-growing, best-educated, and most vigorous population of older adults in the history of the world.

Data shows that people are living longer and retiring earlier than ever before, and they are remaining more healthy and more active than previous generations.

Sisters Country is the home to a large number of retirees — many of whom have left excellent careers early looking for a higher quality of life, and they arrive in Sisters Country with a great deal of quality time remaining (QTR). For this segment of Sisters Country, the challenge is how to make the best use of their QTR.

Red Cross research found that 60 percent of the 50-plus population who do not currently volunteer would consider doing so if asked, especially if the assignment would in some way use their accumulated talents.

A historian friend of mine pointed out that the single most effective method used by leaders in the World War II French Resistance was not to ask for “volunteers” but to specifically ask someone to do a specific task that needed doing.

When asked how they got involved, the most common reason why people volunteer is “Someone I know asked me!” Word of mouth from a trusted source was the key.

Stanford research has shown that remaining physically, emotionally, and cognitively healthy adds more than seven years to our lives.

So, your friends are asking, get involved, take action, check out your options to contribute today!

What makes the 50-plus crowd so desirable as volunteers?

They have the desire to make a difference, to utilize valuable life experiences and to pass on their legacy. Many are looking to develop new relationships with other mentors and mentees alike.

Baby-boomers (76 million folks) have more time – they are either settled into their careers or retired early. Many have developed special and often useful skills to offer to their volunteer work.

Per Habitat for Humanity data, 50-plus folks have staying power. They have fewer distractions from career and young families, giving them twice the retention rate of other volunteers.

Fifty-plus folks have coped with a lot over the years and have learned resilience, which is a skill that can be passed on to those facing challenges at any age.

So, what is keeping you from getting involved?

Many potential volunteers feel that they do not have the skills or training to effectively volunteer or mentor. It has been my experience from working with at-risk youth that the most effective skill that you bring to your volunteer work is your life experience, and your willingness to simply show up, reliably, and regularly. Any special skills that you bring beyond that are the frosting.

Others feel that they don’t have the time or cite transportation issues. But many of the volunteer positions in our community will allow you to work from home, and often on your schedule. In many cases, giving just four hours a week can make a huge difference in the trajectory of another person’s life.

As a volunteer, what do you get for your efforts?

Volunteering expands your network — reduces the feeling of isolation. Engaged people report feeling happier and more satisfied with their lives. From my own experience, and often despite my skepticism, I have seen the contribution of volunteers make huge positive changes in a life, young or old — and then there are those extra seven years that you get to spend around your own family.

See the accompanying sidebar for a sampling of the types of volunteer opportunities available to you right now.