Submitted by: Caryn Shoemaker
Q: What was your primary career and what did you love about it?
A: Toward the end of my career, I supervised the Teacher Certification and Investigations unit of Arizona Department of Education. The greatest satisfaction of those years was working with all the stakeholders to develop a new certification process that was streamlined, logical, simpler, and innovative. After two years of collaboration, I remember the thrill of hearing so many diverse constituents recommend adoption of new rules at the State Board of Education meeting. “This is the right thing to do,” they agreed. The collaboration was exhilarating!
Q: When you retired, did you feel ‘finished’ or, for you, was there still something left to do?
A: I felt freed. It was time to tackle some new projects, volunteer in meaningful ways, find a new identity and explore delayed interests.
Q: What inspires you and why?
A: Guiding an organization through rapid growth over the past six years has been thrilling at times and crushing at other times … but it has always been inspirational. I see that the volunteer work I’ve done since retirement may be more important than the work I was paid for, more beneficial to more people and my community. It inspires me so greatly, I cannot wait to get up in the morning and work toward a better world.
Q: How does your unique set of experiences make a difference for the community in your work now?
A: I was developing skills during my career that positioned me to lead an all volunteer organization, a clothing bank that helps thousands of people in our community every year. I’m learning new skills now and I’m mentoring a number of younger people who volunteer at Clothes Cabin because their passion is also in helping others. Together, we have developed a sustainable non-profit organization that provides clothes for people in need, work boots for men who need them to find employment, laundry services for homeless people, and encouragement for everyone we work with.
Q: What’s your advice for boomers who are about to launch their own “second act”?
A: Follow your heart someplace you’ve always wanted to go. Get up in the morning with a meaningful purpose to your time. Invest everything you have, heart and soul, into service opportunities that will make a difference and leave a legacy of positive contributions.