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Working in retirement

As we celebrate Labor Day, let’s reflect on what work means to someone who is retired. Even though you may not be receiving a regular paycheck, work and vocational experience is still a significant part of life.

Think back on your first job…

How old were you?

How much were you paid?

What did it mean to you to bring home that first paycheck?

Did you enjoy it?

My father’s first job was working with his father on the family “Truck Farm.” In those days, that meant he helped tend the family farm and sold vegetables and fruits from the back of his dad’s truck all over town. Eventually, his father started a tree nursery, and he was expected to help the family business so Grandpap didn’t have to hire outside workers and add to the business overhead.

Despite the unglamorous work, Dad took pride in what he did. He had to learn the different types of shrubs and trees Grandpap sold. Now, 65 years later, taking pride in his work is paramount.

For him work gives him a sense of satisfaction. He enjoys maintaining a nice garden for himself and my mom. The tricks and techniques he learned on the truck garden and nursery have paid off, and my parents are rewarded handsomely with beautiful vegetables that grow throughout the early spring and well into the fall.

For retirees, vocational experience doesn’t end when they receive the gold watch and retirement party. Their vocations shift, and I enjoy working with many retirees who find new purpose in life in and out of retirement communities.

Ann Foster lives at SearStone in Cary. Before Ann moved to SearStone, she became involved in a “Lovey Program” at the local hospitals. Ann worked with a group of seamstresses who would use scrap fabric and stuffing to create stuffed animals for children visiting the emergency room.

“Being in an emergency room is so scary for children,” says Ann. “I felt like giving them this little bit of comfort would make them feel a bit better.”

After Ann moved to SearStone she found a brigade of women, and men, who were interested in helping. Some of the residents in the health care center also wanted to get involved, so Ann expanded the operation. Now, SearStone residents help with sewing on the ribbons and “eyes” and the residents in Brittany Place stuff the animals. They make bears, doggies and dinosaurs and Ann has donated bag after bag to the local hospital.

Another group of residents at Springmoor Retirement Community enjoy a monthly “Stop Hunger Now” event where residents and staff create bagged meals out of basic ingredients to serve to the hungry.  In a six-year period, this effort has created 3,075 pounds of packaged meals!  This is an excellent example of how living in a community can create strength in numbers.


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