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.
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.
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.
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!