Crittenden awarded grant to support research dedicated to older adult volunteerism

Older adults are balancing a growing number of responsibilities during what would have been traditional retirement years. Work, family and community obligations present a challenge for would-be volunteers and the organizations that seek to engage with them.

To strategize a solution, Jennifer Crittenden of the University of Maine Center on Aging was awarded a $46,650 Corporation for National and Community Service Dissertation grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), a federal agency that oversees AmeriCorps and the nation’s volunteer initiatives.

The study, one of 13 selected for funding from 79 applications, aims to explore the challenge many older adults face to balance their work, caregiving and volunteer roles.

Crittenden, assistant director of the Center on Aging, and an adjunct faculty member and Ph.D. candidate in the School of Social Work, designed the study to help address the changing nature of how people are spending their retirement years.

“Now is a critical time to examine how we welcome older adults into various roles including paid and unpaid work. Many volunteer programs are set up to engage older adults under a more traditional model of volunteering, one that does not necessarily take into account the various roles that people are juggling in their lives,” Crittenden says.

“This research seeks to better understand what older adults have on their plate and how we can help them to stay healthy, active and engaged in their communities.”

According to CNCS, the grant supports the organization’s strong belief in the importance of scholarly research to identify effective strategies in the field to highlight the impact associated with civic engagement, volunteering and national service.

In addition to UMaine’s Center on Aging, CNCS awarded 12 grants to higher education institutions across the country, totaling more than $1.3 million. The awards aim to address gaps in knowledge, and provide new ideas for volunteer and civic engagement infrastructure.