After building careers and/or raising families, many people at midlife are asking, “What’s next?” No longer content with “retiring,” a growing majority of older adults want to continue to live meaningful lives full of possibility. To that end, they’re seeking opportunities, paid or unpaid, to make a difference in their lives and in their communities.

That’s where the new Discovery Centers for Civic Engagement can help. The Centers offers ideas, resources, and a peer support system to help community members  55 and older seek a stronger sense of purpose in their work, engage in their communities, and create balance in their lives. Local peer “Transition Navigators” help Discovery Center clients navigate the transition from paid work to finding a volunteer opportunity that matches the individual’s skills and interests.

Six Massachusetts Councils on Aging have launched a Discovery Center or will launch this fall. Three have introduced key programming components  –”Discover Your Encore” and “Discover Your Purpose” workshops. During the sessions, Transition Navigators interact with the participants, review their work history, and provide a list of possible placements for volunteer work. Veronika Mitchell, a Transition Navigator at Framingham Council on Aging, talked about the impact of the program, “Before leaving, one of the participants mentioned that she felt a lot more positive, and that it was a productive meeting.”

The Amesbury Discovery Center has placed six participants in volunteer opportunities. Transition Navigators from Framingham are working on building partnerships. Empower Success Corps (ESC), the Boston-based nonprofit that created the Discovery Center concept, is marketing the program launch.

A new partnership with the United Way allows ESC to add nonprofits and other organizations to a new state-wide volunteer opportunity database developed by the United Way. Transition Navigators can use the database to find opportunities that match an individual’s interests, location and skills.

As older adults increasingly engage in their community through the Discovery Centers, their contributions will create a positive view of their work and life experience, and their ability to make a real difference.

For more information on Discovery Centers, contact David Guydan, ESC Discovery Director or Willia Cooper, Transition Navigator Coordinator.

Published: August 20, 2019