“You’re retired? How do you keep busy?” Since retiring in 2012, I am asked this question and find it contains a challenge. How do I want to spend this next part of my life, while I’m still healthy, energetic, and curious?
After spending a year catching up, “smelling the roses” and powering down to an energy level that felt right, I circled back to that question: could I keep this nice new balance but also get more involved in my community? Did I still have contributions to make?
When a friend suggested that I explore Leadership Greater Hartford’s Third Age Initiative, I did. I read the material, spoke with the program director and even went to the graduation of the most recent class. What an interesting concept! Retirees from the Hartford metro area spend a year together work-shopping leadership skills and exploring the work of Hartford’s nonprofits, and then break into teams with each team designing and implementing a project to address a community issue. This seemed a great way to learn about Hartford, meet some new people and be involved in something both creative and helpful. I signed up.
It was a good decision. I landed in a diverse group with eight new friends with whom I worked for nine months discovering each other’s strengths and interests and then developing a project that would draw on those strengths and interests while giving each of us an opportunity to lead the group in some way. It was a challenging and rewarding experience; but when our project ended, I realized that I wanted more opportunities to engage.
That’s when I learned about Leaders on Board, another LGH program designed to strengthen nonprofit organizations by training and connecting people with boards of directors seeking new members. Once again, I was curious. I had served on boards before but always for organizations to which I was already connected. Leaders on Board would allow me an opportunity to connect to nonprofits that I might be interested in supporting with some of my professional skills. Once again, I signed up.
It was another good decision. I attended an orientation workshop which is the first step for people interested in serving on a board. This was an informative and inspiring session focused on the roles and responsibilities of board members and on the best practices of strong nonprofit organizations. I then participated in an “Express Match.” In the space of a couple of hours I was able to connect with several nonprofits seeking new board members. From that one Express Match, I am now talking with two of those organizations about serving on their boards. If these don’t work out, LGH is connected to more than 100 such organizations, and they hold monthly “Express Match” opportunities for boards and prospective members. I don’t think I will have any problem finding a match.
This new aspect of my “retirement adventure” has just begun and I am ready for some challenging and rewarding experiences ahead. While my introduction to Leaders on Board resulted from my participation in The Third Age Initiative, anyone interested in exploring service on a nonprofit board can sign up for Leaders on Board. Nearly 400 people have found that this is a wonderful avenue toward the meaningful community engagement we seek.
Jane Torrey, West Hartford, CT
Looking for more ways to give back? Volunteer with us! To find out about volunteer opportunities with AARP Connecticut, please call Elaine Werner at 866-295-7279 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.