Volunteers, ‘old farts’ and the active age

By Joe Stumpe | August 29, 2018

From The Editor:

I picked a good day to attend my first meeting of the Sedgwick County Advisory Council on Aging. The council was hearing how local tax dollars are being distributed to nonprofit organizations that serve seniors and, on this day, at least a dozen of those organizations were present to explain their operations.  

One thing that struck me was a comment by Karen Dao of Senior Services of Wichita, which runs the Meals on Wheels program. After noting the number of meals delivered last year – 225,000! – Dao said even more could go out if there were enough volunteers with vehicles to drop them off. 

“There’s a lot of competition for volunteers these days,” she said.

So, if you’ve ever considered volunteering but maybe thought your help wasn’t needed, you now know otherwise. The number at Senior Services is 267-0302. 

We’ll be writing about more volunteer opportunities in the future.

• • •

A friend of mine recently ran into the “ism” that seems to get less publicity than any other: ageism.

My friend, who’s a guitar player and singer, was talking to a bar manager about performing when she told him she “didn’t want an old fart playing, with a bunch of old farts sitting around listening.”

Now my friend plays for audiences of all ages at some of the most popular venues in town. But my point here is not to highlight the bar manager’s ignorance, nor even to criticize her age-centric view. 

Rather, it’s to relay my friend’s reaction, which morphed from astonishment to anger to amusement.

As other friends threatened to boycott the bar, he quickly picked up gigs at a couple of other places, billing himself on social media as an “old fart” and inviting other “old farts” to join him. 

I’m not saying ageism shouldn’t be vigorously protested wherever it’s encountered, if that’s your desire. But one advantage of maturity is a toleration for other people’s foibles and the ability to bounce back, as most of us have had a little practice at by now. 

Keep on strumming, old fart! 

• • •

Two weeks into my job as the active age editor, I can already tell that one fun part will be meeting the people who come through our door at 125 S. West St. 

One of my favorites was an advertiser who came in to pay his bill. Turns out he’s turning his tree-trimming business over to his grandson. 

He’s only 80 so I’m not sure why he’s in such a hurry to retire, but he mentioned something about fishing.

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