For all you activists, entrepreneurs, managers and others out there struggling to breakthrough in your work, I'd like to turn your attention to an incredible resource you may have overlooked.
For the past -- maybe ten years now -- I have had the good fortune to spend time with my mother and stepfather as well as aunt and uncle in their retirement community. What astounds me about my visits is the absolutely incredible amount of talent, life experience and brilliance of these healthy and retired people.
So many of them care about the world -- want to contribute and do not know how or have tons of business experience and time to teach you.
Mentors, Mentors Everywhere
Rather than elbowing my way to the proverbial CEO or Dean's office, I slap on some flip flops and head over to the pool. There, seated next to "you never know who" I can learn about Canadian politics, the real estate business, academic publishing, teaching, sales, cooking, planting butterfly gardens and anything else.
This generation of retirees, isn't old those who succeeded in financial terms just have choice about how they spend their golden years.
Many people I visit can crush me in tennis, almost all can leave me in tears on the golf course. Just because they're retired doesn't mean they're not still in the game or have much to share.
If you have a conundrum or a non-profit you're supporting, I suggest you tap the resources at your local retirement home.
Plus, I find because these communities are generally a single demographic, they tend to appreciate having younger folks around. Your problems may seem like an interesting challenge to them. They won't make fun of you, they'll help you.
Today's grandparents don't knit, they build homes, travel the world and take on new challenges.
Bringing together the elderly and the very young!
Some folks (ah-hem, the Canadians) are getting hip regarding how to engage with the very elderly. They've begun something I hope continues throughout North America.
In Invermere British Columbia, the Garden Village retirement home has partnered up with a local kindergarten. The retirement residents teach the kids and the kids love all these "grandparents" doting on them. One girl even wanted to have her birthday at the home.
Heck, when I'm 100, I want kindergarten kids all around me. What a joy!
I hope programs follow this example. We need our retirees and our elderly; they are a treasure. Let's bring them back into the fold.
Click here to read the Globe and Mail article about the program.
(Photo below by John Lehmann of the Globe and Mail)
Sarah Federman, PhD
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