|Mark Noonan , Elders in Action|
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Elders in Action
Editor’s Note: Here is Mark Noonan’s encore story in his own words.
In 2004, I was 52 years old and at the apex of my career as an executive in high technology. Unfortunately, that meant spending a lot of time laying people off, downsizing and sending careers offshore. It was on an extended trip to China, where I was outsourcing a factory, when my life was suddenly turned upside down. I was informed that my wife, Carrie, had fallen at home while working on our condo and had passed away.
The unfortunate set of circumstances left me devastated and questioning my motivations and purposes. I had invested 30 years of my life populating the world with computers, and now wished I spent more time with my wife. I felt like all the outsourcing and downsizing was only tearing apart the lives of my employees and community. It was at that time that I began a quest for work I could feel passionate about.
I knew I wanted to refocus my energies to make a social contribution and leave a positive legacy. The incredible potential of the boomer demographic led me back to school to obtain a degree in gerontology. The idea was to leverage my years of experience to assist and motivate and assist under-supported older adults as they enter the next phases of their lives. I saw this as a tremendous opportunity to do something meaningful.
While studying at Portland Community College, I took on part-time work as a peer mentor at the school, a program sponsored by Civic Ventures, to help other aspiring encore careerists get back into the school routine. I also landed a volunteer internship at Elders in Action, a Portland nonprofit that helps seniors secure health care, housing and avoid criminal intent.
After I earned my associate of applied science degree, Elders in Action offered me a paid position as a program specialist. I jumped at the chance because I knew it would bring me a great deal of personal satisfaction. Now I serve as the manager of volunteer engagement and social media.
Changing careers entails risk, no question, and ultimately I had to confront a fear of the unknown. But I knew it was something I had to do. I wanted to feel energized again, and I needed to know I was contributing something positive to society.
When I go home every night, I now feel deeply satisfied. I love the direct interaction with people who are thankful for my assistance. They’re looking for support, and I am able to help them do their problem solving. At the end of the day, I know I am making a difference.
Read Mark Noonan’s profile