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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Luxury of a "Third Stage" to life

      Today a person age 55 has life expectancy of an additional 27 years (29.5 years if you are a woman).  This has been called life's "third stage."  This is a reality that didn't exist 80 years ago when the Social Security system was set up.  Average life expectancy in 1930 was 67.5 years.  The retirement years on average would have been 2.5 years. While this has place a strain on the financing of the Social Security system for baby boomers and future generations it has also provided an extended time for persons in their "golden years" to have a second chance to experience opportunities that weren't possible when the responsibilities of raising a family and having to work 40 hours a week to support yourself limited your life choices. Longer life expectancy and earlier retirement have given many of us the gift of a third stage to our lives. For many the image above is not  how they see their retired years.

     Howard County is fortunate to have a large number of persons who have worked in government or in companies with good pension or retirement plans that allow them to consider their options for the third stage of their life. For many of my baby boomer contemporaries a life of golf and travel doesn't seem to be very satisfying. Having a purpose to your life isn't something from which you retire.

      Many volunteer service organizations are recognizing the potential of using the experience and skills of this new pool of "seniors."  The Peace Corps which traditionally has been viewed as an early career opportunity for people in their twenties is now actively recruiting the 50+ population and created a special marketing campaign to attract the early retirees.  Howard County non profits have always benefited from the skills of professional retirees.  Our non profit boards have many retired government and corporate executives.

      Here in Maryland the Social Work Community Outreach Service at the University of Maryland School of Social Work has a program for those looking at how to utilize the skills of retirees to benefit non profit organizations. The program, called ReServe Maryland, connects continuing professionals age 55 and over with meaningful, paid part-time service opportunities at nonprofit organizations and public agencies. They get a modest stipend and work in a variety of capacities to help organizations fulfill their missions and critical needs. ReServe is interested in expanding into Howard County.  For individuals and organizations that are interested in learning more about this program the contact person is Branden A. McLeod, MSW, Director, ReServe Maryland, Social Work Community Outreach Service (SWCOS), 525 W. Redwood Street, Baltimore MD 21201

410-706-1883 or email

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