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Hartford’s Seniors Prepare to Lead

February 21-28, 2007
By The Hartford News

Keith L. Carr, Sr., a longtime leader in the West Indian community, has taken on a new role in community outreach leadership.

Louise Douglas, an active grandmother raising grandchildren, is helping to train a group of residents so they can implement a project to enhance their North Hartford neighborhood.

John Nelson, a retired teacher who lives in Hartford’s West End, sits on the advisory board of the Institute for the Hispanic Family and the North Central Area Agency on Aging.

Anna Elliott, a leader in her Capen Street Neighborhood Association, is now working to develop a comic book for teens with an anti-vandalism/anti-litter message.

John Karrer, who taught art at Weaver High School and lives in Blue Hills, has recently joined the boards of the Crossroads Cooperative Learning Center and the John E. Rogers African American Cultural Center.

At first glance, this group would seem to have little in common. But they share a commitment to contribute to their community that led them to enroll in the Third Age Initiative—a program to identify, develop and engage Greater Hartford’s older adults in the community. And, having graduated from that program, they are now involved in new ways and putting their new skills and new confidence to work.

Established in 2001 by Leadership Greater Hartford, this unique leadership program has now enrolled nearly 200 individuals, ages 48-88. About one-third of the participants come from Hartford, the rest hail from the 31 towns surrounding the city.

Together class members learn about themselves and each other, sharing their varied experiences in ways that help them develop common interests. Through five weekly workshops and a retreat, they develop their understanding of group leadership and their own leadership skills. They visit Hartford’s neighborhoods to see evidence of community growth and development. They meet change agents whose visions are becoming reality. And then they form teams to put their talents and wisdom to use developing and implementing community projects in Hartford.

Doe Hentschel, Program Director, was lured from her own retirement to develop this program. She reports that the program is achieving its goal of creating the avenue by which older adults can connect to their communities in meaningful ways.

“Many of the people who come into the Third Age Initiative have a lot of experience as volunteers and as leaders,” Hentschel says. “But they tell us again and again that they have more to give—that their efforts to contribute as leaders are typically passed over and/or ignored. This is nothing less than a civic tragedy! Our communities and organizations are crying out for new ideas from people who have the time, energy and commitment to help solve problems. People in their third age—our class members—can do that if we can help them connect.”

Leadership Greater Hartford is now accepting applications for the eighth class of the Third Age Initiative. The class will begin on April 11 and information sessions are being scheduled during the month of March. Hentschel explains, “The information sessions give people who are considering joining the class an opportunity to meet others who will be their classmates, and it gives us a chance to explain the program in detail.” To reserve a place at an information session, interested individuals can call Julie Daly, Program Coordinator, at 860-951-6161 extension 19.

Reprinted with permission of the The Hartford News.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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