At age twenty-eight I received a Master’s Degree in Social Work from Portland State University in Portland, Oregon. This event launched my career for the care and treatment of troubled children and their families throughout the Pacific Northwest. Work related activities that occurred during the past forty-plus years continuously filter through my mind. The image of the celebration of the merger of the three oldest children’s non-profit residential treatment centers in Oregon and forming Trillium Family Services in 1998 is ever present. Responsibilities as Trillium’s Chief Executive Officer, until my retirement at age sixty-nine are remembered with a sense of accomplishment.
My life purpose as a professional social worker with daily duties and responsibilities was clearly defined. Upon retirement in 2007 this was no longer the case. The challenge of how to reinvent myself with a renewed sense of purpose became a predominant concern.
On a daily basis some 10,000 Americans turn 65 and will experience an extra 20 or 30 years of an active, healthy life style. In 1998 social entrepreneur Marc Freeman founded Encore.org (formerly called Civic Ventures) with the intent to transform this growing population into a powerful resource to respond to many of society’s urgent challenges. The movement was defined as an opportunity to create new life pathways that would contribute to the greater good and instill a renewed sense of purpose for older Americans.
To facilitate this movement Encore.org developed partnerships with businesses and mission driven nonprofit organizations to sponsor Encore Fellow programs. Older Americans were recruited as Fellows and placed in nonprofits to respond to daily and long-term program issues. Since 2009 more than 1500 Fellows in more than 42 metropolitan areas across the United States were placed in nonprofits and public agencies. Some of these Fellowships were offered and financially supported through employee retirement plans of large American for profit corporations.
For example in 2011 Intel created a U.S. Retirement Services goal for making important life transitions beyond midlife into positive experiences for their employees. They launched an Encore Career Fellowship program that provided retiring employees a one thousand hour $25,000 stipend to become an Encore Fellow, half or full time, six to twelve months in a host nonprofit Fellowship organization.
Social Venture Partners, Portland Oregon started an Encore Fellows nonprofit placement program in 2011. The program has grown dramatically with the development an increasing number of nonprofits seeking placements along with a growing number of Fellows applying for placements. Many are former Intel employees.
In 2008 I formed a Health and Human Services consulting business, which resulted in consulting opportunities with nonprofits throughout Oregon and Washington. In 2011 I started writing a monthly fiction, nonfiction life stories column titled Lighten Up for the Vancouver Washington Messenger newspaper.
I applied to become an Encore Fellow through Social Venture Partners in 2015, which resulted in a Fellowship with the host organization, Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center in Hillsboro, Oregon. Virginia Garcia has been an Encore Host Fellowship organization since 2012 providing a total of seventeen Fellowship placements. The Fellowships have proven to be valuable resources for responding to daily and ongoing organizational program needs.
My Fellowship responsibilities were to describe and provide recommendations for management and oversight of Virginia Garcia’s Behavioral Mental Health Services Program. Toward the end of my annual Fellowship a Behavioral Mental Health Manager was hired. To insure a successful introduction and transition I was hired to continue as a project consultant to provide mentoring and support for the new manager.
On July 1, 2017 I’ll assume responsibility as Virginia Garcia’s part time Encore Fellowship Coordinator to provide day-to-day planning and support for Fellows during their Fellowship placements.
With wonderment and anticipation about what’s next my Encore Journey continues on! At age 78 I look forward to the future!