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Behind the Partnerships: Phil Griffin, NW Natural
Photos and Story by James Hill
by James HillA contingent of local organizations, including Portland Community College, would like to help retirees, or those planning on retiring, get the most out of this next phase of their life. Too often, it is a rush to the finish line of their careers with many left thinking afterward, "What now?" The Life by Design program will help them in the areas of financial planning, in pinpointing career interests and in recognizing their special skills.Partners of the program bring unique perspectives to the project. They include Morrison Child and Family Services, Oregon Public Broadcasting, Portland State University, Hands On Portland, Arras, Inc., AARP, Multnomah County Library, Jubitz Foundation, NW Natural and PCC. In this partnership, the college will provide classroom space at the Central Portland Workforce Training Center.The need is there, due to the large and aging baby boomer group. By fall, the program is expected to get off the ground. In addition to those who go directly to the Web site to get information and get involved, human resources departments will hopefully refer their employees to Life by Design.One of the project organizers is Phil Griffin. He consults for NW Natural and provides a business perspective for the group. Griffin himself is retired and knows all too well the issues that face people thinking about retirement. A 40-year veteran of NW Natural, he retired from his post as human resources manager in 2004. He earned an associate degree at Linn Benton Community College in 1976 and is a 1986 graduate of George Fox University. He calls himself an avid lifelong learner.Question: What is the philosophy behind the development of Life by Design?Phil Griffin: We wanted to develop an organization that is recognized as a "one-stop shop" for people who are planning to retire so that they can move from their active employment career into satisfying part-time employment, volunteer service or community activities. Q: When did you feel this could become a reality?Griffin: As a former human resources manager, I had strong sense about the need for a program like this. After we met with an association of human resources managers and found they were very interested in the idea, it confirmed my feelings. Many of the bigger firms provide some of the financial planning services like this project, but that is usually the extent of it. Ninety percent of the companies in Oregon have less than 25 employees and do not have the resources to help their employees plan for retirement. Q: What will Life by Design do for somebody who goes through the program?Griffin: It will help the person to identify their skills and figure out what direction they should take. The program can help them gauge what their retirement income will be and how much money they will have to do what they want to do, whether its traveling, volunteer work or part-time work, as well as direct them to have a health assessment and direct them to wellness programs.Q: Has your recent retirement been helpful in relating to Life by Design needs?Griffin: I would say so. Before I retired, I was involved at my church and in NW Medical Teams. I realized I had to keep learning and to stay active in meaningful service to enjoy retirement. When senior management at NW Natural asked if I would be interested in working on this project, I realized how the material we are creating covers the same ground and more that I covered as I planned for my retirement and as I helped other employees plan for theirs.Q: Who is the ideal participant of Life by Design?Griffin: The person who is thinking about retiring or is retired who doesnt have a good idea of how to stay active and involved in meaningful service and activities. You cant start thinking about retirement early enough. The longer you wait the more pressure you put on yourself and the more opportunities you will miss.