How one baby boomer put retirement and adventure together

Looking for something new to do? Read this story by Lynn Lotkowictz of Saint Petersburg, Florida. She planned her retirement with adventures both at home, and abroad.

About two years ago, at age 63, I was really getting bored with my media sales management career and realized it was time to move on. My pension was set so I was lucky that I had flexibility. I knew I no longer wanted a full-time job.

But retire? To what? I don’t play golf, and I don’t crochet, play bridge, or enjoy any of those interests my friends do. I adore my grandson and family, but they are 1,200 miles away, so a weekend four or five times a year is the best I can do.

In 2013 I started to work on a plan for the next phase of life. The goal was for it be meaningful and rewarding. Travel, the outdoors, healthy endeavors, and children are my passions.

Lynn — second from right — with a Global Volunteers team meeting and having coffee break at “Heaven” – Ammoudara Beach, Crete.

I surfed the internet looking for travel ideas, cost-effective options, and different ways that volunteering would be mutually beneficial with my interests, skills, and passions. In my free time I read and analyzed and sifted through books and websites, and talked with colleagues and friends.

I narrowed down the volunteer organizations to those in places where I’d like to go, and involved my interest in helping young people. I called each group, asked lots of questions, and most important, asked for email addresses of people who had come before me. That, I thought, would be the best way to learn about the pluses and minuses of a program.

Lynn working with students at Morfosi English School, in Gazi, Crete.

During my last two years of full time employment, I traveled to Crete, in Greece, with Global Volunteers, a non-profit, non-governmental organization (NGO) based in Minneapolis. The trip was wonderful. I worked with the Morfosi school, an after-school program that helps students practice conversational English. The location is breathtaking. The students are energetic and genuinely interested in learning. There was ample free time to enjoy museums, archeological sites, and traditional dining. I worked with a team of volunteers who have similar goals and interests, so I also made new friends.

I’ve also found a local, state-funded public school program near my home. Its goal is to teach immigrants basic English skills to help them function in the U.S. The program needs volunteers to supplement its work in the classroom. I emailed the director and asked to sit in a class for an hour or two. It was an eye-opening experience. Students were from the Congo, Haiti, Ukraine, Egypt, Cuba, and Colombia. They all entered the U.S. under different circumstances. All wanted to be here and were thrilled at the prospect of a new life in my community. I’m planning volunteer work two days a week here tutoring students who have difficulties.

Local color — Cretan men in a village at a local coffee house.

My very generous boss wanted to throw me a retirement party. I suggested he instead make a donation on my behalf to Global Volunteers and he did!

I’m happy to report I’m executing my retirement plan and feel fortunate that it has come together better than I ever dreamed!

7 Comments

  1. This sounded like something I would be interested in except, when I checked on the program in Poland, it costs the “volunteer” $2495 to be there one week! I assume this doesn’t include transportation from the USA. That’s ridiculous!!!

    1. Hi Gary, the best value is two weeks. And, when you consider all meals, accomodations, execution of the program with professional staff and coordinators it might make more sense.

    2. Gary,
      If a program in Poland is too pricey for you, why not consider another place? But you might think about viewing it more as a gift of life experiences you would be sharing with children rather than comparing the cost to that of a vacation. If you want a vacation, fly to Miami.
      Sandy

      1. Gary, sounds like you have a good plan that’s convenient for you. Congratulations! The nice thing about volunteering is that you pick and choose what works for you. Fortunately their are many excellent opportunities out there- Global Volunteers works for me and about 30,000 others who have volunteered over the years. I understand that it may not work for everyone.

  2. Lynn – what a terrific way to organize your post-career life. It will be an inspiration to many. I am in the process of publishing my recently-completed book on Solo Aging (Fifty Plus, Minus Kids) and I believe this is just the kind of plan that opens the door to a rewarding life and robust social connections. I will probably use your story in a blog post soon. It’s a great example!

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