The Third Age Initiative: Older Adults Get Involved and Give Back
May 24 - 31, 2006
By The Hartford News
When John Nelson attended an information session to find out more about Leadership Greater Hartford’s Third Age Initiative, he declared that his goal was to become as involved in the community as his wife!
A recently retired teacher, he was inspired by his wife’s active involvement to seek out ways he could affect community development in Greater Hartford. “Hartford is in the early stages of a renaissance,” he said, “and I would like to be a part of nurturing it.”
John did indeed bring energy, enthusiasm and commitment to the class and to his team, which was concerned about the quality of services available to seniors in Hartford’s South End. Although John himself lives in the West End, he felt he could learn a lot about the needs of senior citizens that would be useful in his own neighborhood.
Over the course of the program year, John played a pivotal leadership role with his team. As they explored ways to improve the services and programming, he frequently made contacts with other organizations and identified resources that could be of assistance to the group. When the team expanded its mission to include the formation of an Elder Council to serve as an advocacy group for Hartford’s South End seniors, John coached them and provided the organizational experience to move the group forward. Like the teacher he has always been, he has modeled the way to effective action and nudged and nurtured his colleagues as they took on new responsibilities.
The Third Age Initiative is designed to move older adults from good intentions to good work. The program and the projects that the teams develop help class members get involved in broader and more effective community roles. Having graduated last September, John reports a number of new activities in the community; and he attributes his involvement to his Third Age Initiative experience. He is now treasurer in his AARP chapter. His involvement with the Third Age Initiative inspired him and gave him the confidence to become a member of the advisory board of the North Central Area Agency on Aging, and he was recently appointed to Hartford’s Commission on Aging. As a result of his networking and growing familiarization with the Hispanic community, he now serves on the Advisory Board of the Institute for the Hispanic Family.
An actively involved LGH member, he was a key player in the planning for LGH’s annual gala, Polaris, and the International Community Leadership Association conference that was held in Hartford last month. Reminded recently of his earlier goal of becoming as active as his wife, John smiled. “I certainly have accomplished that—and more!”
Information sessions for older adults who are interested in learning more about the Third Age Initiative are scheduled in June. For more information or to sign up for an information session, call Doe Hentschel, Program Director, 860-951-6161 x 13.