While temporarily retired, I did some volunteer work, including for Barack Obama’s election campaign. Here’s more from you on retirement, work, and giving time to others.
In addition to serving as our Class Collector and participating in chemistry outreach programs for middle school girls, Terry Newirth Hirshorn’s biggest volunteer commitment is as a board member for the Community Outreach Partnership (CORP), the umbrella for three “do-good” projects in Philadelphia. CORP runs a shelter called Wintershelter for 20 homeless men during the 5 coldest months of the year, a program called Communicare that matches elders with volunteers to help them, and a cook-off that ships about 200 meals every other month people in need. “I organize all the volunteers (almost 100 in all) who cook and serve the dinners at Wintershelter every night from mid-November to mid-April. I also cook for the shelter one night every 3 weeks. I call it my second full-time job!”
Fredda Katz Levitt has recently gone back to teaching high school math “a little bit. I am a volunteer tutor in a small public high school here in Dade County and I love every minute I spend with the kids. I do this under the umbrella of a group called Communities in Schools. I also do some volunteer docent work at an art museum here, so I have added to my education an entire field of study that I didn’t have time for at Bryn Mawr! I know I am lucky to have the free time to do these things. I find it very satisfying.”
The First Parish Church in Bedford, Unitarian Universalist, gives Hillary Hosmer an outlet for creative and social action energies. Hillary and husband Bob have two healthy new granddaughters, Haley Cody and Sasha Holden, born in 2008. “My 40th Peace Corps reunion was a treat. All but one of the ex-volunteers had improved over the years. My mother, Janet, celebrated her 90th birthday. We took her to Playacar, Mexico, for 2 weeks in January 2009. My brother and his wife live with her, but I handle her financial and legal affairs.”
Mary Farrell is taking a group of 16 students to eastern France over spring break, and her school is hosting 21 French kids in return in April. “It’s a lot of organizing, but the program creates international friendships. My colleagues and I have made good friends among the English teachers there. We’re expecting an even warmer reception than usual because of Obama’s victory. I had a great vacation in France last summer. Two weeks in Toulouse for a French teachers’ workshop, and then a week in Paris and Normandy with my sweetie, Marty. I hadn’t been to Caen for 20 years and reconnected with an old friend there. Omaha Beach blew us both away: the local town holds a flag-raising ceremony for the liberating countries every single day from June 6 to early August.
Retirement? One of these years, but not before 66 for sure. How are you all dealing with it? I think I’d miss the structure and human contact of teaching, though not the meetings!”
Judy Chapman Purvis emphasizes that that giving back also means being aware of and responding to the small, immediate opportunities. “I work for a company that probably doesn’t contribute to the overall good of the world (we write sales training materials for drug companies) and I have a lot of respect for people in more applied or good fields. Over the years I have come to believe that what makes a job good (leaving out really nasty stuff like building bombs or research in biological warfare) is how it’s done, rather than what it is. In other words, part of the way I give back to the world is by trying to build a better community where I work: providing a safe place for co-workers to come in and bang their head against the wall; engaging people in conversations about faith (in the broadest sense, not proselytizing); staying upbeat and trying to minimize the inevitable backbiting and moaning about potential catastrophes. I’m also active in my local Quaker meeting, which is another way to give back.”
Currently working at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Ryna Appleton Segal (firstname.lastname@example.org) is looking for fellow BMC alumnæ similarly employed. Daughter Emma is about to graduate from college!
During the second half of 2008, Susan Ames traveled around Western Europe, mostly in her own plane. In July, she attended a cosmology meeting at the Observatory of Paris. In August, she flew to Angouleme, France, then to Porto, Portugal, for a meeting on the Galactic Halo in Espinho, and finally to Rouen. In the fall, she flew to Granada, Spain, for a conference organized by the Astrophysical Institute of Andalusia, to La Rochelle on the Atlantic coast of France, and to Lannion, the “pink granite coast” of Brittany. After spending Christmas at home in Oxford, England, Susan flew to Cherbourg and then to Rennes, France.
Renee Allard Betts has found ways to stay both useful and relaxed in semi-retirement. “In 2000, my husband turned 65 and we moved from Northern Virginia to Colorado, where we had owned a house since the late 1980s. I didn’t want to leave full-time work at age 54, but could see that we needed to get away from where my husband had worked for him to cut the cord. At first I looked for meaningful full-time employment, but found few possibilities in the central Rockies for someone with a background as a law librarian and an electronic product developer. In addition, age discrimination, almost impossible to prove, is definitely in effect. I never worked full-time again.”
“I’ve come to relish the combination of interesting contacts with reduced responsibility that my part-time gigs have offered. I worked for Colorado Mountain College for over 6 years, mostly handling the front desk at one of their many locations two nights a week. I joined the state retirement system and bought time in the Colorado Public Employees Retirement System. In 2006, when we moved to Pinehurst, North Carolina, I found that I was 60 with 15 years of service-amazing! I could retire officially as part of a large health care pool of retirees. Until we moved to Colorado I’d never had to arrange for my own health insurance, one of the major headaches of my first few years of semi-retirement.”
“In North Carolina, I found a part-time job as on-call office assistant for the Village of Pinehurst, filling in at the front desk in Public Services and in Planning and Inspections. I am paid, though not all that much. A benefit of this work is getting to know how the Village government works. Another benefit is getting to know the groups I work with, as I did at the community college in Colorado.”
“I’m also working in the AARP Tax-Aide program. After yearly training and re-certification in January, I work at one or another site from the beginning of February through April 15. Things don’t change that much from year to year, but there are always innovations. Last year it was the economic stimulus payment; this year it’s the recovery rebate credit. The devil is truly in the details because you can easily enter numbers incorrectly or treat something as an adjustment when it might be better as a credit. I don’t feel all that competent, even after 3 years, but I’m really impressed with the depth of knowledge that some volunteers have.”
“I’m continually amazed at people’s behavior and expectations, which provide some good stories to share with my husband. Both of my jobs have the fringe benefit of serving up a slice of life.”
“Since I left the full-time workforce, I’ve become much more leisurely in the mornings. On work days I hustle faster than usual to get ready for the day. I’m up by 6:30 a.m. regardless, but am not always rushing with one eye on the clock. Having a level of control over how I spend my time is one of the great pleasures of retirement, though I give it up here and there to make myself useful.”
“I wonder how many others of us are involved in this. Gene Fiaccone Keidan (1965) volunteers for AARP in Florida, where she and her husband spend half the year. It would be interesting if we had statistics on how many Mawrtyrs worked for Obama, how many do the AARP tax thing, and so on with national initiatives.”
’67 Class Editor
Taffy Brecht Everts
803 Rebecca Drive
Boulder Creek, CA 95006