Dick Goldberg is Director of Coming of Age, a Philadelphia–based national initiative to promote age 50+ civic engagement. It is a partnership of the Intergenerational Center at Temple University, WHYY, AARP Pennsylvania and United Way of Southeastern PA.
What does it mean to be an ‘older American’? Has its meaning and role changed? That term now includes many more possibilities. As it says on the Coming of Age website, “It’s All about What People 50+ Can Do—Connect, Contribute, Give Back, Serve, Create and Dream.”
What is the special contribution older Americans, or those 50+, can and are making in our country? We’re now a source that is being transformed into a force for social good. There are so many of us; we have so many passions, talents, dreams, and skills; and many of us want to connect and contribute. And a lot of us are doing just that.
How does the Coming of Age initiative provide a way for older Americans to live the theme of ‘Age Strong! Live Long!’? We offer programs to help people 50+ consider next steps like our Explore Your Future sessions—and powerful ways to connect and contribute like our Make a BIG Difference Teams. The information about it all is very accessible via our website, comingofage.org, which The Wall Street Journal recently called “A wealth of resources!”
What are the benefits to organizations who create the capacity to utilize the skills, passions, and interests of people 50+ ? Quite simply, when organizations offer and promote compelling opportunities that speak to the passions, talents, dreams, and skills of people 50+, those organizations can realize more of their missions. That notion is at the heart of our 3–day, highly interactive “Capturing the Energy and Expertise of People Age 50+” Learning Lab that we have presented to almost 1,000 executive directors, program managers, and volunteer coordinators in over 25 communities across the country.
What do you think will be the legacy of today’s older Americans? Three things: 1) Stronger communities; 2) A new model for creative, productive, positive, and healthy aging; and 3) A substantive setback to that lethal form of prejudice known as ageism.
What is on the horizon for the Coming of Age initiative? More expansion. We just added out 6th community to the growing network of those that are replicating the initiative—Coming of Age: San Francisco Bay Area. In the last year, we fully replicated in 5 other communities and have several more places about to come on board. And, because of our array of training programs for building capacity, empowering people 50+ and promoting positive aging, which groups in all parts of the country are taking advantage of, we’re on target to be involved with at least 40 communities in the coming year.
What final thought would you like to leave us with? My personal motto: “Old is Good!”