Julie Roles, today’s Elder with Wisdom, likes to make things happen. That’s how she got connected with the Vital Aging Network (VAN). In her mid 50s Julie started to tweak her consulting business to better fit her passions for innovative and strategic thinking. Trained in business and design and an experienced writer and graphic designer, Julie turned her focus to the design and implementation of programs.Read More»
“Rusting” in retirement? Ron Strand, the subject of today’s Wisdom of Elders blog post, says following your passion in retirement does not leave time for rust to get a start.
The current trend of people postponing retirement has more than one cause. With the recent economy, many people feel the need to continue working to rebuild their 401(k) due to loss from the stock market or depletion from unemployment after age 50. Then there are those who continue to work because they love what they do—they have a passion for it.Read More»
What is The Fourth Act? It follows the “Terrible Gift.” Jeanne Wiger, an octogenarian, is finishing her book, The Fourth Act. The Fourth Act does not always come when you are old, but it always comes after a life-changing event, the “terrible gift.” Wiger received her “terrible gift” 2 years ago when she landed in the hospital for more than a month, potentially facing the end of her life. The Fourth Act is the blessing of an opportunity which provides passion and energy to re-engage with life in a new way. For Wiger, the result is writing two books that share her Wisdom of Elders.Read More»
“Thank you! Thank you! Thank You!” That is what Marion McCarthy hears every time she runs into Loretta, a student from one of the Lifelong Learning classes that McCarthy established. Loretta thanks McCarthy for providing a resource that would not be available in her Detroit community otherwise.Read More»
Happy New Year!
In other societies the Wisdom of Elders is a valued treasure, but not so in the United States. We worship youth. For the New Year, I hope to bring to life retirement topics by presenting the stories of people age 50+.
We all enjoy staying and looking as young as possible for as long as possible. But reviewing news stories of some of our young celebrities, we realize that we tend to learn a little about living gracefully as we age.Read More»
Gene Cohen in his book, The Mature Mind, describes the “summing up” developmental phase of our life starting in the late sixties. We want to share our wisdom and find meaning in our lives as we look back. We want to leave a legacy—both of wisdom and impact. Liz Sheahan from the Society of St Andrew has a suggestion for how to leave a legacy of impact:
While many people support non-profits throughout their lives, relatively few are able to make a gift that can truly transform the level of services a charity provides – at least during their lifetime. That’s the beauty of estate gifts – through a simple bequest or a myriad of other planned giving tools, virtually everyone can make a major gift.Read More»
Having just returned from villages in the Southern Highlands of Tanzania in Africa, I am contemplating how to simplify my life in retirement. The villagers have so little in material things, but are so joyful and generous. They work hard just to survive, often with no running water or electricity. In the US we often whine if we don’t have the latest technological advance immediately. Since we were visitors to these villages, we did have the luxury of running water (not necessarily hot water when we wanted it or much water pressure) and electricity from 6-10 PM.
In a seminar on using our natural gifts/talents a few years ago, the presenter commented that all of our possessions require an amount of our energy—to maintain, clean, organize, use, etc. If we got rid of a lot of our possessions, we would have more time to devote to what was truly important to us.
Downsizing to gain time and energy
So looking at my life in retirement, I am figuring out how to downsize my possessions or things I need to organize. If they live long enough, our parents reach a time when it is very difficult to figure out what gift to give them for birthdays and holidays. They have everything they need and don’t have many wants, except maybe to spend more time with us. For most of us money and time are our personal scarce resources. Often when our parents want our time, we feel like we don’t have enough of that resource to share. However, if we rid ourselves of those extraneous things (and for me that means lots of documents and books), we regain time and energy that we used to need to maintain things instead of relationships.
Downsizing as a gift to our children
Recently I have had friends who have had to go through parents’ houses or downsize themselves as they moved to smaller townhouses, etc. It was a laborious, painful, but freeing, process. Doing this for our children before they are forced to deal with our years of accumulated possessions and memories is a gift to our children.
In an attempt to look forward to being able to enjoy time with children and grandchildren and pursue what is most meaningful to me (volunteer work, etc.), I am pledging to clean up some of my piles of papers that keep me from feeling free to enjoy my time more. How about you? Please feel free to share how you have simplified your life in retirement (or before).
Well, almost free. If you are a 62 year old US citizen/permanent resident, you can purchase a Senior Pass for National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands for $10. Normally an Annual Pass costs $80. This Senior Pass lasts for your entire lifetime, as long as you do not lose the card itself. You need to show the card and your picture ID at staffed recreational areas or place the card on the dashboard of your car in unattended areas.
Purchasing a Senior Pass for National Parks
You can buy a Senior Pass at staffed recreational areas for $10. You can also purchase one through the mail, but it will cost $20 which includes the processing fees. To download an application to mail, go to Senior Pass application website. For questions or to attempt to receive an application through the mail, call 1-888-ASK-USGS (1-888-275-8747) or email fedrecpass@USGS.gov . The application is sent to USGS, Box 25286, Denver, CO 80225.
Benefits of the Senior Pass for National Parks
You can use the Senior Pass at over 2,000 recreational sites managed by five Federal agencies:
- National Park Service
- The Forest Service
- Fish and Wildlife Service
- Bureau of Land Management
- Bureau of Reclamation
- Entrance into parks/facilities—for areas with a vehicle charge, it covers all people in one non-commercial vehicle; for areas with a per-person charge, it covers the card holder and up to 3 other adults (Children under 16 are free.)
- 50% discount on some amenity fees, such as camping, swimming, boat launching—check with location for details on specific activities
- Exceptions—facilities where private contractors manage activities or facilities may not accept the card—contact facility directly for details
*If you are not 62 yet, active military personnel and dependents can receive a free Annual Pass, and disabled citizens are entitled to a free Access Pass that is good for a lifetime.
Summer has started. It’s time to think about taking the grandkids to a National Park. So the Senior Pass could be a great value for you—almost free, especially when spread over the rest of your life!
In a recent blog post, I discussed Encore Careers where retirees combine “purpose, passion and a paycheck.” Marc Freedman who founded the organization, Encore.org, and coined the term “encore career,” had originally founded an organization called Civic Ventures. Freedman had written a book called Primetime: How Baby Boomers Will Revolutionize Retirement and Transform America, where he described how Boomers were changing retirement and looking to be more active in making changes in their world during retirement.
Baby Boomers and Civic Engagement in Retirement
In Minnesota along with the Vital Aging Network (VAN), Freedman held forums on Baby Boomers and Civic Engagement. One of the findings described at these seminars was that Boomers wanted intellectually challenging volunteer experiences that called on their skills and experience from their work life. They often preferred project management or coordination of a program as opposed to stuffing envelopes and being greeters.
However, the findings also showed that non-profits were not prepared for this new kind of volunteer. Aside from being board members, non-profits did not have a good process for incorporating volunteers with valuable business or other specialized skills into their organizations. Like training student teachers or teaching children life skills, initially a job can take longer when incorporating volunteers than if one completes it themselves. A friend of mine reported that she wants to volunteer at a local senior center where her technology skills and masters degree in gerontology would be a perfect fit, but that she always has to consider how she can help the organization without requiring too much of the director’s time to initially set up the project.
Non-profits and Skilled Retired Volunteers
A recent Forbes blog post, “Why So Few Baby Boomers Are Volunteering,” describes similar findings about Boomers and skilled volunteering, but it also points to some non-profits that are beginning to use volunteers in a more specialized way. So, Boomers, if you want to help with research, plan specific fundraising events, train other volunteers, put together educational or marketing literature, or provide community outreach and education, first you might need to help non-profits establish a process to more easily incorporate your services into their organization OR find non-profits that already “get it.”
If you have an example of how an organization benefitted from a volunteer’s expertise, please comment below. Maybe we can all help the growth of more meaningful volunteering!
Combining several of our last topics—passion in retirement, working in retirement, and volunteering in retirement —we come up with Encore Careers. Encore.org promotes “second acts for the greater good”—encouraging people age 50+ to use their experience, skills and wisdom to leave a lasting legacy for the well-being of future generations.
Boomers as “takers”
I love the encore career concept because we Boomers are always cited for taking so much—resources, jobs, services, attention. Because Boomers are the largest and best educated generation and had the greatest opportunity for jobs and material success up to this point, we are looked upon as “takers.” Now because we are entering retirement age, we are “taking” a chunk out of Social Security and Medicare. When the Boomers were born, we knew there would be a large number of people hitting retirement age at this time. What has changed is that thanks to advances in medicine, we are living longer and, thus, stressing those government programs even more.
Boomers as “givers”
Encore careers offer us a chance to prove that we can be “givers” as well. Even though we often have enjoyed a higher standard of living than our parents and seem to be focused on financial/material success, many Boomers are now at the developmental stage where we want to leave a valuable legacy for future generations. We can use our gifts of education, training and experience to help provide solutions to social problems.
“Encore career” was coined by Mark Freedman, founder of Encore.org. Encore careers promote “purpose, passion and a paycheck” in your second act. One way social entrepreneurs in the second half of life are encouraged is through the $100,000 Purpose Prize. According to Freedman, “Winners guided by experience, drawing on creativity and anchored in pragmatism set out to find solutions to significant, seemingly intractable social problems.” Recent winners from Purpose Prize:
Inez Killingsworth, 72, became a housing expert and advocate—just in time for the home mortgage and foreclosure crisis. In a recent year her organization, Empowering & Strengthening Ohio’s People, provided foreclosure counseling to 8,000 families, helping more than 80 percent stay in their homes.
Susan Burton, 61, a former drug addict who spent years in and out of jail, is an advocate for women who are also former inmates. Her organization, A New Way of Life Reentry Project in Los Angeles, helps female parolees — and their children — start fresh, by offering them housing, legal services and job training.
Judy Cockerton, 61, aims to transform America’s foster care system through her Treehouse Foundation. The nonprofit has created a mixed-income housing community where families who have adopted foster children live among “honorary grandparents” age 55 and older. Volunteers serve as mentors, tutors and counselors.
Other prize winners have helped the homeless; first-time, at-risk mothers; severely-disabled students; and have projects in other countries like Tanzania, India or Afghanistan.
Encore Career Resources
We may not all be able to start new organizations, but we can start looking for opportunities to pursue our “passion, purpose and a paycheck” through:
Encore Career Handbook Review at: Review
AmeriCorps national service network: AmeriCorps or call 800-942-2677. Volunteer and paid service.
AARP Experience Corps. Volunteer and paid tutors improve K-3 literacy in disadvantaged schools.
Support from other sources for encore careers
Richard Eisenberg in his blog post, Encore Careers for the Rest of Us, suggests there are 4 other major players who need to support this movement to make it part of traditional retirement:
–Financial Advisors need to help clients look at retirement in a new way and consider encore careers as an opportunity to help themselves financially while finding meaning in retirement.
–More employers need to offer near-retirees paid internships or bridge jobs like the Intel Encore Fellowships — six- to 12-month assignments at local nonprofits.
–Nonprofits need to welcome skilled people interested in encore careers.
–Colleges should provide training for people interested in encore careers. See encore.org for list of current programs.
So Boomers, let’s become known as the generation who started the “purpose, passion and a paycheck” retirement. Give us your encore performance!