The Chairman's Corner

Notes from Merv Shetler

September 2008

Bluebills Continue to Buck the Trend

Reporting 2007 as “Best Year Yet”


The nation’s volunteer rate has been falling, according to a recent article provided by the Associated Press.

In 2007 the national average volunteering rate was 26.2 percent Washington’s rate was better with 34.7, and we rated 13th among the states.  Nevada was the lowest with 17.7%.  I guess Nevadans spend their time donating to the slots.
However, there is good news.  Even though the national average is decreasing, the report concluded the “volunteer intensity” is increasing, with 34% of the volunteers contributing more than 100 hours per year.

The bad news is that there are increasing concerns that the economic woes – high gasoline prices and job insecurity – would be deterrents for new volunteers. “With more people in need – losing houses, losing jobs – there are more people to serve. You have fewer people helping and more people needing help.”

The demographic data is interesting and answers questions about volunteer participation.  :

  • People feel more connected to the community.
  • The right circumstance for volunteering.
  • Higher level education increase rates.
  • Higher level of homeownership.
  • Spend less time commuting, leaving more time to give back.
  • History of civic engagement.
  • Large number of nonprofit associations and organizations.

The Puget Sound area sure fits these circumstances with a possible exception of “less time commuting.”

So how does all this relate to the Boeing Volunteer Retirees-Bluebills?

First off, I can see the difference in the increased number of requests we receive for help in the food banks, senior centers, assisted living support, transportation services to name a few. Fewer teachers are traveling to the Resource Center because of $4.50 gasoline. Many of our Bluebill volunteers are on fixed incomes and are having a rough time covering the higher cost of travel and miscellaneous expense associated with volunteering.

However, even with these obstacles, our hard core Bluebills continue to rack up increasing numbers of volunteer hours. We had our best year yet with 92,000 hours in 2007.

So what are our volunteers doing that keeps them coming back? Here is a random list of the projects that are being supported by our four chapters:

    • Support Salvation Army-Take a kid shopping for school clothes.
    • Cards for the troops.
    • Collect DVD/VHS recordings for assisted living residents.
    • Making quilts, scarves and caps for Children’s Hospital, Fred Hutch and special needs.
    • Computer training for senior agencies.
    • Collaborate with World Vision on school supplies for over 150 schools and Kids in Need programs.
    • Mock interviews for college students.
    • Staff a Red Cross disaster team.
    • Bicycle recycling program.
    • Hospital Equipment Repair.
    • Independent Living--ramps, refurbish homes, install grab bars and railings, etc.
    • Habitat for Humanity.
    • Mentoring in community schools.
    • Introducing children to Engineering and Science.
    • Mighty Movers help in relocating needy families.
    • Provide docents to the local museums.
    • Support the Boeing Tour Center in Everett.
    • Support Adopt a Family program.
    • Participate with Boeing at KCTS telethons, family days and special events, ie 787 Rollout.
    • Support Cocoon House--Serving homeless youth.
    • Everett Mall Awareness Fair.
    • Support Everett Children Museum.
    • USO volunteers-support our troops.


This is sampling of the opportunities available in the communities we support. If you can’t find a challenge in one of these areas, give us a call and we’ll help you find one. At times I get the question of “what do the Bluebills do”? My response is what “do you want to do?” because we can find you an opportunity in about any field that fits your interest. Come join us and help us meet the community’s needs.


"Charity sees the need, not the cause." – German Proverb

Merv Shetler

Chair, Central Leadership Council

Summer '06 Chairman's Corner


January '07 Chairman's Corner

December '07 Chairman's Corner

To see Bluebills Volunteer Statistics, click on the chart icon to the left.

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 date of this page version:15 September 2008