Friday, October 26, 2012

Carol Greenfield: Pioneering What's Next

Carol Greenfield, thinking creatively about  life's next stage

Way before I even contemplated a blog on the transition out of careers,  Carol Greenfield was plowing the new turf of "what's next," sewing seeds and watching them spring up into a movement. 
That movement has a lot of names at this point. Encore Life, Next Generation, Third Age, Third Generation.
But Carol was there near the start. She told me about a seminal meeting she attended in 2001 where a guru of the engage-the-aging groundswell,  Marc Freedman, invited about 75 Boston area aging experts “to propose a new paradigm about what aging could look like in the future,” Carol said.

Even the word “retirement” had to go, the group declared. “Retirement as we’d known it was created by real estate and financial services entrepreneurs,” Carol explained, specifically Del Webb, who in 1960 launched the idea of people retiring to a place (Sun City, Ariz.) where “everyone was the same age, played golf and shuffle board and ate out.” 

The idea of age as an asset -- not a liability -- which Freedman was espousing, resonated with Carol who noted that,  “People have talents and assets at this age.”
 Freedman went on to establish the concept of an Encore life stage and write Encore: Finding Work that Matters in the Second Half of Life and founded the Experience Corps and
Meanwhile,  Carol, a Boston gerontologist, launched “Discovering What’s Next?”  which started 10 years ago with a meeting at the Newton Free Library.  From that first day, when about 150 people showed up, it has blossomed into a hub of connections for people 55 and over seeking volunteer work, paid work in the profit and non-profit sectors, transition support groups and more.  The group's name was selected and trademarked, Carol said, to convey a time that's  “positive, exciting and optimistic.”  
“This generation is the first to look forward to 30 to 40 more years -- maybe more than their working years, “ she said.   To look at that as one chunk was no longer realistic. 
The “encore” lifestage, is a time when people “are interested in work, but work with personal meaning and social impact.”
But there's a mismatch. The non-profits, who desperately need the skills of this burgeoning group, don’t know how to take advantage of this talent pool. 
“In addition to age discrimination, there is the feeling that experienced adults want to make big salaries; or young staff are uneasy having people the age of their parents report to them,” Carol said.
Not one to shirk a challenge, she stepped up to help address the problem --even as her husband, David Greenfield was winding down his dental practice to focus on his own encore life stage as a photographer. 
Carol created a partnership between her Newton group and JVS Boston, which this summer brought to town a venture that is putting down roots around the country. ReServe, Inc. -- Innovative Staffing for Non-Profits --matches post-career “continuing professionals” (ReServists) with non-profit and public sector groups in dire need of their services. It’s a win-win-win:  ReServe Greater Boston offers a framework to help the organizations define their needs and connect them to experienced and enthusiastic talent. The groups pay $15 an hour to ReServe, of which $10 goes to the ReServist as a stipend.
"So many people are eager to do meaningful work and make a little money and stay productive," she said, but without such a framework, they had little way to find a position that engaged their skills in a rewarding way.
Yo, Philadelphia! ReServe is now in New York, Maryland, Florida, New Jersey and Wisconsin, not to Any ideas on launching it here? 

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