Wed, 03 Aug 2011 20:50:00
Brenda Lauer has kept herself very busy in her retirement. A fast-talking native New Yorker, Lauer spent the first 7 1/2 years in Asia after her retirement. She now volunteers as a nurse at Clinic by the Bay in San Francisco, where she teaches two one-hour health workshops each month. Lauer found her position at Clinic by the Bay through a program called Coming of Age, where the retired or soon-to-be retired explore their talents and options for the future.
Lauer participated in an “Explore Your Future” workshop at Coming of Age last July. The workshops are designed to help people 50+ to focus on what they want to do – based on their values, influences and interests.
“[Coming of Age] helps you envision what you want your life to be like,” said Lauer.
When members complete the workshop, Coming of Age provides a talent coach to set and solidify some of their goals.
“I wanted to do a little more give back to the community,” said Lauer. “I want to do education and reach a lot of people in a different way.”
Lauer worked as a registered nurse for 29 years before retiring. She then traveled abroad as a volunteer on the board of a research facility in Thailand – where she reviewed proposed and on-going infectious disease research projects. She spent 5 1/2 years in Thailand and two years in Japan before returning to the United States.
“I was fortunate actually, because when I stopped working I immediately went overseas,” said Lauer.
Lauer began working on the renovation of her home when she returned to the U.S., and therefore didn’t feel officially retired until after this project was completed.
“I retired – I feel – after I finished my house,” said Lauer.
Clinic by the Bay is located in the Excelsior District of San Francisco and is an all-volunteer run free clinic that provides health care for uninsured and underinsured people of the community. Clinic by the Bay provides health seminars to educate the community on topics including diabetes, nutrition, stress management and men’s health issues.
The seminars reach the Excelsior and Daly City communities, many of whom are Spanish-speaking and Cantonese-speaking immigrants.
“We’ve provided a lot of information,” said Lauer. “We are going back to nutrition because that is a major cause of many problems.”
Lauer said her experience at Clinic by the Bay has been a rewarding one. “The more you give, the more you get back; it’s very satisfying,” said Lauer.
Bonnie Lawrence is the communications manager for Coming of Age. Lawrence said Coming of Age encourages members like Lauer to explore the questions they might have about the future. Members and participants of Coming of Age are making decisions such as whether to retire, whether to move, go back to school or change professions.
Lawrence said many Coming of Age members are looking for direction and simply need an action plan to realize their goals. “Life doesn’t go on forever,” said Lawrence. “You only have one shot, and maybe it’s time to think about what you want to do.”
Coming of Age has only been in San Francisco for a year, and Lawrence said the program already has around 400 members and 1,000 subscribers to their newsletter. Lawrence said membership to Coming of Age is free, and members receive discounted rates on workshops.
Coming of Age connects members with organizations seeking volunteers. Opportunities include working with children, with the homeless population, or working in community gardens or in clinics.
“We encourage people to get involved in the community and look for meaningful volunteer opportunities,” said Lawrence.
She also said many of the members become close friends and are able to network to share opportunities. “It becomes a support group and resource sharing group,” Lawrence said.
With an already full retirement, Lauer plans to continue on the path of community service. Lauer said she is looking forward to fulfilling her goal of participating in HIV/AIDS outreach in addition to the volunteer work she currently participates in.
“I am reading about how the HIV rate has grown in African American women. I didn’t realize it was growing and I feel there is something I can do in terms of teaching, to teach women how to protect themselves,” said Lauer.
When asked what she would tell other people of retirement age who are deciding what to do next, Lauer said she would tell them to plan ahead, not only financially but to actively develop hobbies and get involved in the community. “I would tell them to do what pleases them,” said Lauer.
Lauer said that Coming of Age helped her use the tools she had and solidify her goals. “The only reason I’m at Clinic by the Bay is because of Coming of Age. They did help me a lot,” said Lauer.
For more information about Coming of Age in the Bay Area, visit: http://www.comingofage.org/bayarea.
For more information on Clinic by the Bay, visit: http://www.clinicbythebay.org.