Most everyone has heard it before. Millennials are selfish. They lack work ethic. They want to do things their way. They’re entitled. But is that really fair?
Because it turns out, millennials, anyone born between 1981 and 1996 — ages 23 to 38 in 2019 — are proving to be a generation that values community service as a social responsibility. Savvy companies already know this and are highlighting their social causes to attract a millennial workforce.
“I personally refer to millennials as the next ‘Great Generation’ because the degree of generosity that we’re seeing from them is quite impressive,” said Jean Case, a former executive at AOL and chief executive of the Case Foundation, in a 2015 interview with the Washington Post.
“One common theme among all young people, it was true of Baby Boomers and Gen Xers at this age — they’re idealistic,” Case said.
“The big difference, when we began looking at millennials, is that they’re turning their idealism into action in a very real way.”
The next Great Generation? That’s a far cry from the “entitled” label long ago pinned on millennials.
While corporations already are tuning into this, making volunteering and corporate giving an employee perk, cities and communities also are benefiting from millennial magnanimity.
League City is seeing a surge in young volunteers. The sight of people in their 20s in local government was, and still is, somewhat rare. When League City Councilman Hank Dugie first ran for office in 2016, he became, at the age of 27, the youngest council member for a city of more than 100,000 people.
For years, governments across Galveston County were plagued with having a small pool of volunteers on many boards. The same volunteers could be found on dozens of boards. No one is knocking the volunteers. They should be commended. But everyone benefits when community boards and local governments have a diverse group of people helping set policies and solve problems.
League City Mayor Pat Hallisey put it best when he said: ”Young people are the future and the only way the city is going to grow is by having seasoned people in leadership roles providing leadership opportunities to the younger generation.”
Cities and communities benefit from diverse perspectives, ranging from someone starting a family to empty nesters to those long into retirement.
Volunteerism is on the rise in League City, which received 135 applications for appointments to boards and commissioners between Aug. 1 and Oct. 31 in 2018, up from less than 90 the year before, officials said.
Much of that has to do with millennials. Other cities should nurture and encourage this trend.
It’s time for older generations to stop pigeonholing millennials with negative stereotypes and begin recruiting them for the betterment of communities.
• Laura Elder