Community Improvement & Organizing

Glenys Carl , Coming Home Connection
Executive Director
Coming Home Connection
Purpose Prize Fellow 2013

When a severe head injury paralyzed Glenys Carl’s son Scott while he was visiting Australia in the late 1980s, she became his devoted caretaker. Unlike many in her situation, she had help—hundreds of volunteers who responded to fliers she had posted all over Sydney asking for help. When they moved to London, she posted flyers again, and volunteers streamed in. In three years in two countries, she had trained hundreds of people in how to assist with Scott’s daily needs and physical rehabilitation.

Michael Berkeley , Mexico Medical Missions
Mexico Medical Missions
Purpose Prize Fellow 2013

For decades, Michael Berkeley had a fulfilling career as an orthopedic surgeon for celebrities in Aspen, CO. By the late 1980s, he wanted a higher purpose. “I didn’t want my tombstone to say, ‘He fixed a lot of knees,’” he says.

He found an encore career in Chihuahua, Mexico, where through the 1990s he volunteered at a Christian hospital treating Tarahumara Indians, who suffer one of the worst maternal and infant mortality rates in the world. Half of all children die before age 5.

Eisner Foundation Tours Encore Fellowships Network Host Site

We are so very honored to join with four extraordinary nonprofits as finalists for the 2013 Eisner Intergenerational Excellence Prize. Check out the Eisner Foundation blog post featuring our program, the Encore Fellowships Network. Michael and Jane Eisner, Encore Fellow Jose Alvarado, Founder and CEO of Marc Freedman, and Leslye Louie, National Director of the Encore Fellowships Network, toured the site of Jose's Work Host Homeless Prenatal Program in San Francisco.

Boaz and Ruth in Richmond, Va., has restored abandoned buildings and homes, generated employment opportunities and changed lives. The neighborhood has seen crime rates drop by 61 percent since the organization's arrival a decade ago. "Eighty percent of the buildings here were boarded up," says founder Martha Rollins, a 2006 Purpose Prize winner. "We're trying to fill the emptiness."

Experience Matters' centerpiece program is Encore Fellowships, placing highly skilled executive retirees in half-time positions for a year (a $20,000 stipend underlines that it's a serious commitment). Fellows' accomplishments range from strengthening a museum's finances to developing a long-range plan to make senior centers more efficient and effective. (This story also appeared in USA Today.)

In what might be a surprising trend, a Kauffman Foundation report notes that boomers make up a rising share of entrepreneurs.That's not surprising to Detroit-based Purpose Prize winner Randal Charlton. He says said the trend is being driven by people living longer and boomers' genuine interest in civic ventures.

Civic Ventures helps people explore encore careers, a concept that is gaining importance as life spans expand. The organization released new research suggesting that it takes an average of 18 months to transition from one job to another – a period that often occurs after a retirement or a layoff in the form of a gap year.

Oprah Winfrey Hails Purpose Prize Winners

Oprah Winfrey has her sights on two 2010 Purpose Prize winners. Margaret Gordon and Dana Freyer were recently showcased on for the extraordinary work they do in their encores.

Wanjiru Kamau , African Immigrant and Refugee Foundation
African Immigrant and Refugee Foundation
Purpose Prize Winner 2011

When Wanjiru Kamau, a university administrator and adjunct professor, met the asylum seekers – victims of the Rwandan genocide and relatives of her colleagues at Penn State – she saw that some were illiterate and bewildered by modern city life.

Seeing them took her back to her own childhood, growing up in rural Kenya without running water or electricity, carrying heavy loads on her back. How would they survive in a complex society like the United States?

Shana Swiss , Women's Rights International
Women's Rights International
Purpose Prize Fellow 2011

In the late 1980s at a Boston hospital, physician Shana Swiss treated a refugee woman with 19 stab wounds. The brutality made Swiss realize she wanted to do more for this patient than sew up her horrific wounds. “I had to do something to stop violence against women,” she says. The case inspired her to volunteer at Physicians for Human Rights in 1991.

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