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Looking for a few good boomers to help others

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Darron Cummings/AP

(Read caption) Mike Carr assists a client at Community Action of Northeast Indiana, in Fort Wayne, Ind. Local charities and nonprofits are looking for baby boomers to roll up their sleeves to help local schools, soup kitchens, and people in need. Carr, who retired about a year ago, volunteers with low-income people and military families.

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Local charities and nonprofits are looking for a few good baby boomers – well, lots of them, actually – to roll up their sleeves to help local schools, soup kitchens, and others in need.

Boomers are attractive volunteers, and it's not just the sheer strength of their numbers – 77 million. They are living longer. They are more educated than previous generations. And, especially appealing: They bring well-honed skills and years of real-world work and life experience.

"This generation, this cohort of Americans, is the healthiest, best-educated generation of Americans across this traditional age of retirement," says Dr. Erwin Tan, who heads the Senior Corps program at the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), a federal agency in Washington. "The question for us is how can we as a country not afford to mobilize this huge source of human capital to meet the vital needs of our communities."

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Dr. Tan says nonprofits are retooling to attract more boomers by offering a variety of skills-based opportunities as well as more flexibility, such as nontraditional hours or projects that don't require a trip to the office and can be completed at home.

Mike Carr of Fort Wayne, Ind., is exactly the kind of skillful boomer sought by communities.

Mr. Carr retired about a year ago as an accountant for Verizon Communications. Instead of golfing or parking himself on the couch, he volunteers with low-income people and military families, helping them prepare and file their tax returns.

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