Video: Boomers turn altruistic

NBC News correspondent
updated 6/23/2005 7:37:48 PM ET 2005-06-23T23:37:48

In Atlanta, and all over the United States, Girls Inc. is committed to the concept of teaching girls to be "strong, smart and bold," as its motto says.

For CEO Joyce Roche, a bold move was something she says she desperately needed.

"The thing I was searching for was to make that move and to use these skills to have an impact on the lives of people," she says.

The 50-something baby boomer is now using the skills she learned as a cosmetics executive for what she calls a "more fulfilling" career.

"Something that's going to nurture your soul as well as maybe help put some more coins in the pocketbook, that's like a win-win," says Roche.

Diane Granito walked away from a lucrative post in entertainment. Now, she's helping foster children find families in New Mexico.

"What do you do with that extra money in your paycheck if at the end of the day you don't feel good about what you've been doing?" she asks.

Both women are part of a growing trend among baby boomers — leaving the private sector to take new jobs that can really make a difference for their communities.

A new poll conducted March 7-April 11 by Princeton Survey Research found a majority of boomers were considering new careers and working well into their retirement years. Among the 1,000 people surveyed between the age of 50 and 70:

  • 78 percent wanted to help the poor and elderly.
  • 56 percent wanted to work in health care.
  • 55 percent wanted to work in education.

Researchers say the timing couldn't be better. They point to the need for more than 1 million new teachers and 600,000 new nurses, as well as skilled non-profit leaders in the next 10 years. Those are needs that fit perfectly with baby boomers' aspiration.

"They need to continue to bring in an income to make ends meet," says Marc Friedman, the founder and president of Civic Ventures, a group that encourages baby boomers to use their experience for positive change in society. "At the same time, they want to live a life that still matters. They want to keep contributing, they want to have a reason to get up in the morning, they want to be connected to other people."

In Santa Fe, N.M., Granito hopes other boomers will follow their hearts.

"I'd like to encourage people to take a leap of faith and to go through doors that are there, that are calling to them," she says.

It's a higher calling that more and more baby boomers are willing to answer.

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