Growing older and making a difference

The Trends Research Institute has been forecasting it for a long time: As people live longer and financial or life circumstances obliterate traditional thinking about retirement, the aging process will more and more include dimensions of self-exploration, self-expression and community mindedness.

Here’s another example: Six individuals over 60 have recently received The Purpose Prize, honoring their passion, innovation, entrepreneurial spirit and their impact on poverty, community health, disaster relief and people with disabilities in the world around them.

The prize was created in 2005 by, a nonprofit organization created to promote “second acts for the greater good, to showcase the value of experience and disprove outdated notions that innovation is the sole province of the young.” Encore sees the prize recipients as “powerful examples for the millions of older Americans who believe that using their life experience in order to make a difference — big or small, across communities, continents and generations — is a vital responsibility.”

This year’s winners include:
David Campbell, founder of All Hands Volunteers. Tech executive Campbell used his management savvy to build a nimble, effective nonprofit that has dispatched 28,000 volunteers to 45 global disaster zones.
Charles Fletcher, founder of SpiritHorse International. Telecom veteran Fletcher used his Texas ranch to launch a global network of 91 therapeutic-riding centers serving — free of charge — 5,000 children with disabilities.
Dr. Pamela Cantor, founder of Turnaround for Children, Inc. in New York City. Child psychiatrist Cantor leads an organization that helps schools counter the effects of poverty on student learning, reaching tens of thousands of teachers and children in low-performing public schools.
Rev. Richard Joyner, founder of Conetoe Family Life Center in Conetoe, N.C. Rev. Joyner’s thriving, 25-acre garden and family center is steadily improving the health of his rural congregation, boosting students’ high-school graduation rates and economic potential — all while providing a model for more than 20 church communities.
Mauricio Lim Miller, founder of Family Independence Initiative in Oakland, Calif. Miller’s unorthodox approach to ending poverty has helped hundreds of families double their savings and increase their income.
Kate Williams, manager of the Employment Immersion Program for LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired in San Francisco, Calif. Human resource professional Williams despaired of losing her career and her independence as her sight faded to near-blindness; she now uses the adaptive technology that kept her in the workforce to help the blind find jobs.

The institute has been steadfast in its forecast that aging and its implications on cultural, health, economic, community and political fronts will continue to strengthen. The future is, indeed, in aging.


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