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Encore for All!

Several personal experiences lately have caused me to think about how our society is shifting to a new place where people of a broad age range are blending together in fresh and exciting ways. I can only hope for more of this in Grand Rapids!

During a recent family reunion at Snow Mountain Ranch in Colorado, my seventy-five-year-old brother-in-law climbed a rickety 50 foot ladder to a zip line behind my nephew who is in his early twenties. My fifty-seven-year-old husband belongs to the Dirty Herd, a trail running group comprised of men and women In their early twenties to late fifties.This summer, I managed an awesome volunteer project for Grand Rapids Public Schools with the expertise of three retirees from major companies and two under-thirty emerging leaders.

In all of these examples, the individuals blended seamlessly and were happy to share social time later at a local brewery. None of us thought much about our age differences.  If we did, we simply thought it was it was an interesting and lively mix.

Kate Luckert Schmid, the program director for Grand Rapids Community Foundation and the moving force behind the Grand Rapids Encore movement, explains that the movement is not ultimately about tapping the energies of people age 50 and above.  It is more about everyone, no matter what their age or stage in life, finding their purpose and passions, being connected to paid and unpaid fulfilling work, and using their skills and experiences to improve our community in significant ways.

I couldn't agree more.  

It seems entirely natural for Tera Qualls, a nonprofit leader in her thirties, and me, a late career professional, to embark on new Encore work together. We are on fire thinking about all the potential of blending our own skill sets and then helping nonprofits to connect to the talent they need to make their organizations' flourish. We look forward to working alongside individuals as they discover their personal passions and put them to work for social good. Finally, we are excited to partner with corporate friends to take their community engagement strategies to a new level.

Soon we'll be calling various groups together to begin a new phase of Encore Grand Rapids. Stayed tuned and check back for more details as we grow.  We promise to provide a refreshing look at our community through a broad lens of age diversity and active community engagement.