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Older adults can help us create better communities

Jim Scheibel

Social Security, Medicare, and retirement savings will be issues in 2018 for seniors, and for all citizens. This new year should also be the year we expand the Encore Movement. By harnessing the experience of people midlife and beyond, we can help solve our social problems. Legions of people are aspiring to transition to their encore careers. Social purpose organizations can tap encore talent to fulfill their mission. The work may be paid or volunteer, full or part-time. John Gardner, scholar, leader and reformer, challenged the country to recognize and utilize the wealth of experience older adults bring to society.

To assist with the transition to encore careers, three higher education institutions are offering Encore programs in the Twin Cities. They are United Theological Seminary, the University of Minnesota and Hamline University.

This fall I facilitated the first cohort of Encore Hamline Fellows. The program included identifying and affirming one’s passion, learning and reviewing the basics of nonprofit management, hearing first-hand accounts of encore careers, coaching and supporting each other, and most important, spending part-time in a midtermship (fellowship) with a nonprofit organization.

The first cohort of the Encore Hamline Fellows provide a good picture of Encore work. Sheila assisted with fundraising at the Carmen Pampa Fund. Barbara interviewed alumni of the National Youth Leadership Council. Jim worked on special projects for Second Harvest. Rich is assisting the Sundance Family Foundation with helping youth access jobs and be job-ready. Valerie is tutoring with Minnesota Literacy Council. Rick is helping develop a business plan for the Charities Review Council. Kit is documenting operational processes for MicroGrants. Valvet is addressing food insecurity by volunteering at Second Harvest.

With the growth of the Encore Movement, nonprofits need to think creatively about how to utilize this wealth of talent and experience. They need to open their doors to boomers who want to have an impact. For both the organization and Encore workers, it is a rewarding experience.

People interested may contact the encore programs at Hamline, United Theological and the University of Minnesota for more information.

In addition to securing Social Security and Medicare, let us expand encore opportunities for older adults. The call of the Peace Corps to seek “the toughest job you’ll ever love” continues to burn in the hearts of baby boomers. Let’s tap into this valuable resource.

Jim Scheibel, a former mayor of St. Paul, is Professor of Practice in the Management, Marketing and Public Administration Department, Hamline University. He is a former director of both AmeriCorps VISTA and the Senior Corps. 

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