This I Believe

Charles - Schaumburg,, Illinois
Entered on September 1, 2006
Age Group: 50 - 65

What I believe

I believe that people over 60 can contribute to our society… I wasn’t so sure that other folks had the same belief, until I found America’s Second Harvest.

I was a mid level executive with a giant multi-national firm providing emergency and disaster services throughout the world. I lived in Hong Kong but provided aid in crisis situations to Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, India and numerous other Asian countries A challenging, fulfilling, and exciting career. But then, suddenly, my 60th birthday loomed on the horizon.

A relatively mundane illness sidetracked me for a few weeks and upon my return it was clear my career path was leading directly to retirement. It was becoming unclear if my 60th birthday party or my retirement party would be held first. Or. if it would be a combined “celebration”.

It turned out retirement came first, by a few weeks.

But I didn’t want to retire. I didn’t want to spend my day watching black and white western movies on cable TV, even though there WAS a certain intrinsic “cowboy like” satisfaction in that activity, pardner..

I felt great. The years might have taken the color from my beard but hadn’t subtracted any IQ points from my brain, nor slowed any of my sense of urgency about business issues.

A recent study by the AARP and human resources consultants Towers Perrin indicated that by the year 2012, employees over the age of 50 will account for 20% of all workers, up from today’s 13%. I wanted to be part of that 20%.

So I consulted, and taught for a year or so, preaching the gospel of emergency preparedness and Crisis Management, my fields of expertise, to all who would listen, both at major businesses and in graduate level college classes, but the desire to contribute to some company, on a full time basis, was still strong within me.

Then I found America’s Second Harvest … or they found me.

For those of you who don’t know, A2H is the largest domestic hunger relief charity in the United States. The network consists of over 200 food banks food pantries, kitchens, shelters, and food rescue organizations, and, in fact, was one of the major providers of food during last year’s south eastern hurricane season. They secure and distribute over 2 Billion pounds of food and grocery products to 50,000 charitable nutrition agencies and help feed over 25 million Americans in need, each year.

A2H members serve nearly every county and parish in the U.S., including big city, suburban and rural communities. For more than 25 years the A2H membership has been meeting the nutrition needs of low-income Americans and those facing crisis due to natural disasters.

What a great opportunity for me. A chance to use my 40 plus years of crisis management experience, not to add to the bottom line of a huge Fortune 100 firm, but to bring food to folks who need it.

So now I work helping prepare individual food banks and food kitchens to prepare for disasters, assuring that food is where it is needed, when it is needed, and in sufficient quantities to face any emergency.

And America’s Second Harvest has reaffirmed my belief that those over 60 can make valuable contributions to society…. Even if we DO remember who Hopalong Cassidy was.

And there is distinctly something very “cowboy” about helping those in need. John Wayne would be proud.