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Evolve Preps for Encore Career

After 30+ years working in sales and marketing, Mary Peterson is ready for an encore career. Her desire for a change led her to VAN’s Evolve: Re-igniting Self & Community program.

“I resonate with Encore Careers’ talk of ‘purpose, passion and a paycheck,’” says Mary. “I definitely need to continue to earn income but I have reached a point in my life where I want to have more flexibility and want my work to help make life a little better for people around me.”

When Mary saw a story in the Little Brothers - Friends of the Elderly (LBFE) newsletter about scholarships for the Evolve class, she took notice. Mary interviewed for a scholarship, and received an award. “I thought this class would be a way for me to explore my future path and, at the same time, help Little Brothers achieve its mission of relieving isolation and loneliness in older adults.

Mary PetersonMary came to the Evolve class with considerable experience as a volunteer leader and with a track record for generating ideas and getting results. “I have been involved in numerous efforts in my church including one in which we established a relationship with Robin’s Nest Children’s Home in Jamaica. The Evolve class introduced me to new ways of thinking. I especially value the how-tos for getting others to buy into an idea and help make it happen.”

One of Mary’s volunteer roles is with Kinship, a Minneapolis nonprofit whose mission is to provide children and teenagers with adult mentors. She saw an opportunity to connect the young people from Kinship with the elders from LBFE. The idea was to help the high schoolers plan and host an event that would bring youth and elders together to share their gifts and have fun. “Kinship mentees receive a lot from their adult mentors and that’s great. But it is important that they also get the experience of giving back. This is a way for them to be of service to others,” says Mary.

“I came in with grand plans but I realized quite soon that I needed to be careful that I didn’t get ahead of the people I was trying to bring along. The Kinship organization was just great, and ultimately we decided to invite the elders to an event that they were already planning rather than do an additional event.” The intergenerational picnic is scheduled for Saturday, July 14 at Oak Hill Park in St. Louis Park.

If both Kinship and Little Brothers are pleased with the event, Mary expects that it will be ongoing. In the meantime she already has feelers out for new opportunities. “The Evolve class introduced me to a network of great people and has helped me get a clearer picture of how I want to move forward in my work,” says Mary. “I have new insights and renewed energy. I am ready to go.”

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