Baby boomers have come full circle. Once known for their excesses and high-on-the-hog tastes and fancies, the Me Generation has morphed into the We Generation, leading programs and efforts designed not to puff themselves up, but instead, for their community – especially those less fortunate.
Boomers have led the noble effort to prop up neglected corners of their community. Take a look around and you’ll see many people born between 1946 and 1964 leading the charge locally in service organizations, government and nonprofits. The 45- to 65-year-olds drive not only the economy, but also what seems like innumerable efforts to lift those who are struggling under life’s weighty demands.
The December edition of My Generation chronicles a few of these boomers and the great strides they’re making around Maine. For example, there’s Larry Caruso, vice president of the board of directors at My Place Teen Center in Westbrook. On page 4, we learn that Caruso is the center’s “go-to guy,” according to Executive Director Donna Dwyer. He was also the nonprofit’s 2012 Volunteer of the Year. He handles the IT needs of the center and performs building and heating system repairs as needed. Caruso does it because he wants to help the kids who use the teen center as a safe-haven.
“It’s the most rewarding, wonderful, hard volunteer work I’ve ever done,” he says, “because of the kids. The kids are everything.”
Another story about a boomer building up their local community can be found on page 6. Colby Perkins, a member of the First Parish Congregational Church nestled among the shops in downtown Freeport, helps to organize a monthly marketplace at the church, which allows vendors, artisans and crafters a place to sell their wares. The First Parish Market Place comes to an end on Dec. 6-7, with the annual Holly Jolly Fair. Money raised is funneled into programs that benefit the larger community.
“The money allows the church to do its missions and keep the church doors open,” Perkins said. “It’s all done for one reason; that is, to put our mission back into the community.”
Then there are Audrey Beach and Bonnie Gagnon, coordinators of Caring Unlimited, based in York County. The nonprofit, profiled on page 10, works to end domestic violence by providing support and safe haven to women, their children and men who have been abused, a tall task indeed. Gagnon and Beach work every day to comfort the victims of abuse and every year host a holiday gala. This year, it’s on Dec. 11.
“There’s crisis in their lives,” Beach says of the people – predominantly women – who come for help. Referring to the safe place that is Caring Unlimited, she adds, “This is a place where crisis isn’t part of it.”
While there are many who work or volunteer for community-based organizations, you don’t have to be part of something formal to make a difference. These stories encourage us to do what we can in our own little corners to make life better, easier and more joyful for someone else, even a stranger, who may need it most.
In December, with Thanksgiving in the rear view and Christmas approaching, the spirit of good will toward all is celebrated not only in the stories on the following pages, but also your story, as well – the one you’re writing for yourself, about yourself. It’s just nice to have some good role models from the We Generation to take some hints from along the way.
John Balentine, Editor