The ENCORE! Fayette initiative focuses on tapping into a tremendous resource that has been previously undiscovered, the senior population. There are over 15,000 sixty-five plus seniors in Fayette County and that number will grow to over 45,000 by 2030. These seniors represent a vast and often untapped wealth of talent and experience - and this talent and experience is needed and desired by the public and private agencies and organizations in our county.
ENCORE/Senior Leadership Programis a collaborative effort of our county’s agencies/organizations that either work with seniors or utilize seniors as volunteers. ENCORE, which stands for Retired Leaders Enriching and Nurturing the Community by Offering Resources and Experiences, is a 10 week program designed to provide active, community spirited older adults with the opportunity to learn more about their community; the important issues and challenges it faces; identify the primary community needs and determine how they can become involved and make a difference by helping to shape Fayette’s future.
Our 8-10 week program usually runs from January - March. Plans are currently underway for our 2013 Class. Please contact Becky Smith for more information on hosting an informational presentation to your group: civic, neighborhood, sorority or church group. Also stay tuned for how to apply for our next class.
Each session in this 8-10 week program is dedicated to local topics that are addressed by public and private sector community leaders.
Week 1: Orientation - This is Fayette
Week 2: History/Government - County and Fayetteville
Week 3: History/Government - Tyrone and PTC
Week 4: Judicial system & citzen involvement
Week 5: Business community & economic development
Week 6: Education & Lifelong Learning
Week 7: Fayette’s Heathcare System
Week 8: Family/Diversity
Week 9: Arts/Culture
Week 10: Wrap-up/Civic Renewal/Citizen Participation
“Why do people assume that when I retire that the skills, knowledge, and wisdom I have acquired are no longer valuable? When I give an organization my volunteer time, I want to be able to help with my professional skills and NOT shred paper.”
For three years,Fayette FACTOR led groups of seniors through their Senior ENCORE program. From their website:
ENCORE/Senior Leadership Program is a collaborative effort of our county’s agencies/organizations that either work with seniors or utilize seniors as volunteers. ENCORE, which stands for Retired Leaders Enriching and Nurturing the Community by Offering Resources and Experiences, is a 10 week program designed to provide active, community spirited older adults with the opportunity to learn more about their community; the important issues and challenges it faces; identify the primary community needs and determine how they can become involved and make a difference by helping to shape Fayette’s future.
I had the pleasure of catching up with the Senior Classes at their annual summer picnic. What a lively bunch! Conversations centered around food, family, volunteering, activism, and laughter. Encore facilitator, Becky Smith, asked the group to gather around and share their experiences with the program and how they've been active in serving the community. Here are some of the more memorable quotes.
Why did you decide to go through the course?
“My wife asked me to do it.”
“No dear, I think it was you that asked me.”
“Sounded like fun.”
“We had moved here several years ago, but really hadn't gotten involved in the community.”
What were the sessions like?
“Riveting. After the first session, we didn't miss any of the others.”
“Respectful of my gifts and talents.”
“What an amazing opportunity. We were able to meet all the leaders who run the county in a very short amount of time.”
“I thought they'd never let us out of jail.” (Upon further clarification, they spent a good portion of one of the sessions touring the local county jail and learned about the county justice system in depth.)
“You had to hold up your hand to go to the bathroom. Becky wouldn't give us a break.”
Becky's reply, “You were such a social group, every time we took a break, you wouldn't come back.” Incidentally, when we took a break during this conversation, everyone did leave. Like I said before, a very lively group.
What did you get from this experience?
“Knowledge about how the county works, and who I can call if I have questions.”
“Dear friends and neighbors.”
“Empowerment and education.”
“A direction to pursue in helping to give back to the community.”
How did you respond to Becky's challenge to get involved in the community?
“I became a CASA volunteer.”
“I gave free counseling to substance abusers who could not afford therapy.”
“We started the local SCORE office.”
“I became better at giving advice to others.”
“I did not shred paper.”
What impressed me the most about this group of seniors is their vitality, their honesty, and their willingness to care for each other and the community. I am very proud to be living in a community who venerates and celebrates the continued achievements and sense of community that seniors bring.
What can be done?
FACTOR is currently seeking funding and volunteer administrators, facilitators, and participants to continue the legacy of the ENCORE program in Fayette County. For more information, contact Becky Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org.