The Young at Any Age Team: Sam Jones, Joyce DeMonnin, Steve Carter, Debbie Cahill and Carlos Romo
By Joyce De Monnin, Communications & Media Relations Director, AARP Oregon
It’s a busy coffee shop in Southwest Portland and a small group is hard at work. Coffee cups are half full, spread sheets outline plans. Papers are scattered and shuffled throughout the conversation, and everyone is intently working.
But these aren’t millenials mapping out an IPO. It’s a group of AARP volunteers who believe that people 50 and over have a powerful story to tell – and they are passionate to be the ones to make that a reality.
The “Young at Any Age Team” (YAAA) is led by Carlos Romo, half parish priest and half drill sergeant who took to heart a mission from AARP Oregon to mentor some new volunteers. He was randomly assigned to mentor Debbie Cahill and Samuel Jones – a writer and a photographer and had an “a ha” moment. He wondered if this wouldn’t be a dream team to help highlight AARP’s latest mission to “Disrupt Aging” by showcasing outstanding people over 50.
He roped me in (Comm Director for the state) as well as a retired newspaper editor and writer from the Oregonian Steve Carter. The result is that the YAAA team identified and developed 12 stories about your friends and neighbors. People who are disrupting aging. People who are making a difference. People who are finding a passion.
Sam said, “When you retire (or get older), people treat you like you’re done. But we’re not.” The team agrees that the people they’ve met and interviewed showcase that age is just a number and life is meant to be lived. Debbie agreed saying, “We’ve noticed that one common thread among all of the people we’ve profiled is that they haven’t slowed down, and they’re following their interests.”
Debbie and Carlos are fairly new to the Portland area and said that by doing this project and traveling to the far reaches of the metro area, they’ve begun to feel connected to the Community. And even though this YAAA team are all retired, the project has taught them so new insights into life. Carlos said, “When you meet fascinating people, you learn how to be involved.” And Sam agreed. When you meet people like these, you wonder, “What am I going to do next?”
So what’s next for AARP Oregon? We’re going to publish the blogs every month and hope to share this idea with other cities in Oregon and hopefully create some new YAAA teams too. If you have a great idea to share, send them to firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo: Sam Jones