City Club Presentation by Mr. Freedman
On Wednesday, June 8th, we went to lunch at the City Club where we heard a presentation by Mr. Marc Freedman, founder and CEO of Encore.org whose mission is "building a movement to tap the skills and experience of those in midlife and beyond to improve communities and the world."
He challenged much of the past and, unfortunately, sometimes current thinking that dictates that "60 is the new 40 or even 30" because he believes that people should be proud of their age and their lifetime experience and make us of the latter to serve themselves and others because they have a lot of wisdom to impart. He went on to say that "we are "pioneers" in this movement.
Along these lines, projects that Mr. Freedman has been involved with have included what is now the AARP Experience Corps which brought together many people over 50 to assist elementary school students from challenged backgrounds in cities throughout the United States. As the program notes indicated he also "spearheaded the creation of the Purpose Prize, an annual $100,000.00 prize for social entrepreneurs in the second half of life, and the Encore Fellows program, a one-year fellowship helping individuals translate their midlife skills into second acts focused on social impact."
Of course we, ourselves, tend to think internationally so before the program started (as well as during the Q and A) we asked Mr. Freedman about the potential of older immigrants to make a difference in our society. He said that he believed that young people and older people can help each other a lot through "cross-cultural bridging" and take advantage of the fact that statistics show that multi generations are communicating better than ever before. Accordingly, an older immigrant can share with a child his knowledge of the world and the child can help the older immigrant master the English language. Besides, it has also been proven that older people who mentor younger people are three times as likely to be happy. Mr. Freedman also mentioned that he attended a "pitch contest" in Fremont, CA in which all ages took part and the big winner of the day was the team composed of people who immigrated to the United States from Afghanistan.
In a response to another question, Mr. Freedman mentioned that we might learn something from Singapore which recently released an "action plan for successful aging" which contained more than 70 suggestions to empower older people to "age confidently and lead active lives, with strong bonds to family and community." Senior Minister of State for Health Dr. Amy Khor said that "population aging is not something to fear but a great opportunity for Singaporeans to maximize the opportunities from longevity."
A few of the programs in Singapore that are scheduled to come pass are a National Silver Academy which will provide 30,000 learning places for seniors to pursue their interests; expanded home visitation programs which will recruit 50,000 senior volunteers; measures to improve the accessibility of transportation including replacing old buses with those that are wheelchair accessible; and eldercare and childcare facilities to be located in close proximity to each other so that the seniors can help out.
Before the program started we were enchanted by Ms. Ann M.B. Kuula, a very active older person visiting the City Club for the very first time. She is an artist who has worked on several projects at the Cleveland Foundation and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. She lives in Old Brooklyn and is active in several environmental organizations and is very supportive of programs to help foreign-born people become successful in the United States. She remembered seeing us at the Asian Festival a couple of weeks ago where her daughter was a performer. She had never been to the Asian Festival before either but she seemed very open to new experiences. Thus, we believe that we can say that Ms. Kuula is a "pioneer" concerning successful aging in ways that should be emulated.
Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC