February 8, 2012

Princeton Senior Resource Center Event Focuses on “Living With a Purpose”

There’s no dearth of advice on how to handle the aging process. Recently published titles that can be found at the Princeton Public Library run the gamut from effusive — Juicy Living, Juicy Aging: Kick Up Your Heels Before You’re Too Short to Wear Them by Loretta LaRoche — to Sherwin B. Nuland’s well-received, more sober-minded treatment of the subject, The Art of Aging: A Doctor’s Prescription for Well-Being.

A good alternative (or supplement) to all the prescriptions for “aging well” would be to attend the program “Living with Purpose,” a free event that will be held at the Suzanne Patterson Building from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Friday, March 2.

Three “Purpose Prize” honorees will highlight the program with descriptions of how they went about embarking on an “encore” career. The Purpose Prize, created by Civic Ventures, annually recognizes 10 adults who are 60 and older, for their “extraordinary encore careers in which they are creating new ways to solve tough social problems.”

The three honorees at the March 2 program are Barry Zuckerman, Dana Freyer, and Mindy Thompson-Fullilove. “The stories of these Purpose Prize winners are so inspiring, for whatever next steps one is contemplating for the next phase of life,” said National Coming of Age Director Dick Goldberg, who will moderate the panel.

Mr. Zuckerman was honored in 2008 for his work with the National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership in Boston, which brings lawyers into health clinics to improve the health of low-income children. Ms. Freyer, a Purpose Prize fellow in 2009 and a Purpose Prize winner in 2010, founded the Global Partnership for Afghanistan in 2002 after a career as an attorney. Ms. Thompson-Fullilove was recognized in 2011 for establishing the University of Orange, a free school for city residents that promotes civic engagement, citizen participation, and activism. 

“People who retire around the age of 65 may have 25 or 30 more years when they could be engaging with the community,” said Princeton Senior Resource Center Director Susan Hoskins. “Non-profits rely on skilled volunteers to succeed. This is about connecting people who have skills and passions with appropriate agencies.”

Having precise skills is not the point, said Ms. Hoskins. Someone who has worked in industry may want to help children read or work with immigrants adjusting to a new environment. Although prospective volunteers may feel that they have not had any relevant experience, they do have skills and knowledge that can be tapped into. The panelists’ stories and the discussion that will follow are intended to “get people really excited about the possibilities,” observed Ms. Hoskins, who traces the inspiration for the “Living With a Purpose” program to hearing “positive aging” proponent Mark Freeman speak to Princeton University’s Alumni Corps last spring. Thinking about “encore careers” is “so much a part of what we want to do with our program,” she said.

Post-retirement community engagement comes in many forms. Commitments can be short or long-term and vary in scale and scope. Ms. Freyer, for example, recently reported that the Global Partnership for Afghanistan has enabled more than 25,000 Afghan men and women farmers to restore their orchards, nurseries, woodlots and other farm businesses and the numbers increase daily.” On the other hand, short-term projects, like producing a much-needed brochure for a struggling non-profit, have their place as well, noted Ms. Hoskins.

The March 2 panel presentation will be followed by discussion and a light lunch sponsored by Springpoint Foundation. Program partners, including PSRC’s Next Step Program, Princeton Alumni Corps, and Volunteer Connect will describe potential opportunities where participants can pursue their own interests and get involved.

PSRC is a non-profit organization providing a wide array of programs and services for people over 50 in the greater Princeton/Mercer area. One of these programs is “Next Step: Engaged Retirement & Encore Careers.” This program helps people plan for a satisfying and rewarding retirement, including discovering and developing an encore career. For more information, go to www.engaged
retirement.org. To register for the March 2 event visit princetonsenior.org or call (609) 924-7108.