Linda Mercuri Fischbach spent 20 years running the nonprofit Womanline Counseling Center and another 13 as clinical director of Family Service Association. She’s an active community volunteer – think Italian Festival or Goodwill’s Miracle Clubhouse. She has four kids, a husband and 11 grandchildren. But somehow, retirement wasn’t really in the cards.
She’s spent the last two years with The Dayton Foundation as a Del Mar Encore Fellow, tackling significant community problems. Her current assignment is with the National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ), exploring how our community addresses issues of diversity and inclusion.
Linda is one of five Encore Fellows assigned to area nonprofits as part of an initiative aimed at using older adults to provide expert resources to nonprofits and to change the community conversation around aging along the way. The program, The Dayton Foundation Del Mar Encore Fellows Initiative, is built on the understanding that retired professionals have a lot of wisdom and experience that can continue to benefit the Dayton Region.
The Dayton Foundation is now seeking new Host Organizations for three new Encore Fellows, older adults who have finished their primary careers but are still interested in giving back to the community. They are employed by The Dayton Foundation but placed with community groups to work on major projects for a minimum of one year, and up to three.
The Encore Fellows work about 25 hours a week and their role has three aspects. The first is the Host’s initiative – help solve a community problem. The second is to engage older adults as Encore volunteers, identifying equally skilled folks who don’t want the year-long commitment of the Fellow’s role, but are interested in making a meaningful contribution to our community. The last is to change the conversation around aging, to help our community recognize that we can more effectively solve problems if we thoughtfully employ the experience and wisdom of older adults.
Frieda R. Bennett is another Encore Fellow who has a hard time staying retired. After 30 years at Sinclair Community College, where she was a professor, dean of the business technologies division, and served as assistant to former President Ned Sifferlen, she retired, only to start teaching again at Wright State University. Five years later, she retired again. Sort of. She began her new role in August as an Encore Fellow with St. Mary Development Corp., trying to figure out how technology can be used to help low income senior residents have better access to health care.
Sherrè Collier left a 33-year career at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in 2017 and a week later began her new role as a Del Mar Encore Fellow with the Brunner Literacy Center in Trotwood. (She hasn’t even tried retirement!) At Brunner, Sherrè and the staff are working to address the widespread challenges of adult illiteracy and low literacy by helping to recruit and train volunteer tutors, and document the literacy and ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) resources in our community.
Vel Hux was a volunteer leader of SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives) who had worked in communications for corporations, nonprofits and with her own business, before she joined Learn to Earn Dayton as a Del Mar Encore Fellow. Vel coordinates the Summer and After School Collaborative, which helps providers offer high quality programming and document their impact on children in our community.
After multiple careers in the law and education, including serving as general counsel to the Tennessee Department of Education, Kaye Manson Jeter actually did retire as Dean of the Central State University-Dayton Campus in 2013. But the lure of an interesting Del Mar Encore Fellowship pulled her back into the workforce. In August, Kaye began working with the Dayton Metro Library, reviewing their nascent Homework Help programs and making plans to expand the program into more branches across their service area.
Each of these Encore Fellows has brought a wealth of experience to their Host Organizations and an even broader view of the needs and gaps in our community. If you think your organization has a project that could benefit from the contributions of a highly skilled, retired professional, check out our Request for Proposals. And if you still have questions, give me a call.