I've been thinking about … what's next?
My husband Joe tells the story that when he was a young man and a branch manager for Sherwin Williams paint company, he had a retired manager in his 70s who would come in from time to time and cover for someone on vacation. One day Joe asked him why he was working when he could be completely retired? His answer has stayed with Joe for over 50 years.
"Joe," he said, "all my friends who have retired fall into two categories. Those who Retired with a capital R and those who retired but either work part-time, volunteer in the community or have a hobby that they are now pursuing. Those who Retired and do nothing are dying off. Those who work part-time, volunteer, play a little golf, pursue a hobby are alive and kicking. I'm just hedging my bets in case there is something to my theory."
I've been reminded of that story several times this summer. But let's update it with a 2016 twist. We are living longer, are healthier, more physically active and continue to work and volunteer in the community, sometimes well beyond retirement age. I'm meeting people who have retired from 30 years of teaching, professional musicians, social workers, artists, corporate executives who want to keep doing what they know how to do but for the community.
They are starting organizations that are teaching little children who may be falling behind their peers in reading and math, using technology.
They are giving music lessons to youth that may not be able to afford lessons.
They are working as part-time executive directors of nonprofits who really need that executive experience.
They are using their artistic talents to honor and exhibit their ethnic heritages.
They are teaching talented at risk students how to make a living from their art.
They are doing things they have always wanted to do and now have the time and still have the energy to do.
I believe there are many of these people out there maybe waiting for someone to say, "Hey, let's talk about that."
So, very quietly, in small steps I have started gathering people who may be in this group of individuals not ready to go quietly into the night. I'm looking for people whose heads are still full of ideas and can't help but come up with three solutions to a problem or challenge that comes up.
You can call it a think tank, a meeting of the minds or you can come up with your own label. I'm open to all comers. That is the operative word here. Open. I'm not afraid to admit that not all of my own ideas are gems; some are real duds. But unless you are unafraid to put something out there to be kicked around, scrutinized and picked apart by people you respect and not have your feelings hurt, you may want to disregard this appeal. If you can take the heat, welcome to the kitchen.
There are so many problems that can be solved or at least mitigated by thoughtful consideration. Public/private partnerships can be created to attack issues that plague our community. And consider this: If we can come up with a solution to a problem in Carroll County what makes you think it wouldn't work somewhere else?
Audrey Cimino is executive director of the Community Foundation of Carroll County. She writes from Westminster. Reach her at 410-876-5505 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.