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History of Primetimers program

PT-World War I trenches
Primetimers walk in German trenches from World War I
located in the South of France

In the late 1990s, Civic Ventures, a California-based non-profit organization, conducted a survey of older adult Americans and found several interesting results.

On the one hand, the survey discovered that 40% of older Americans are either working for pay or plan to work for pay in retirement, and an even larger number either volunteer or plan to volunteer. Older adults are both more active and living longer than ever before.

On the other hand, it indicated that older adults surveyed had a difficult time finding meaningful volunteer opportunities, and that they feel that their skills are not valued by organizations. Too often the volunteer opportunities left for older adults were classified as too simple, e.g. envelope stuffing, hospital cart pushing, etc.

In the midst of the International Year of Older Persons, The United Methodist Church responded to various requests for new age-specific programming - requests which are only confirmed by the above findings. In 1999, the General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM) convened a Design Team to consider the scope and character of a new program initiative for older adults, called Primetimers. Planning processes included representatives of the Board of Discipleship and the Board of Higher Education and Ministry, in addition to the broad cross-section of experts identified by GBGM. Pilot teams were commissioned throughout 2000 and the program began as a full program in 2001.

The initial concept of Primetimers was to marry together the best of a Volunteers In Mission experience (Christian and service-oriented) with the educational character of the Elderhostel movement (educational and cultural).

If you have questions, please contact:

Primetimers Program
Mission Volunteers Office, GBGM
475 Riverside Dr., Room 1400
New York, NY 10115
Toll free 1-877-882-4724, or 212-870-3825
E-mail: primetimers@gbgm-umc.org

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