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Life by Design kicks off fall season of programs

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With the vast number of baby boomers becoming eligible for retirement, the issue of offering services and engaging them in volunteer work and second careers is fast becoming a national priority. Locally, there is an organization that is growing to help define that second stage of life and support people in planning for the future.

Participants in Life by Design Northwest explore their interests, like finances and health, to set the stage for planning. They use this information to develop a life path and connect with educational institutions, new careers, community organizations or avenues to pursue other interests. At every step in the process, the program provides a variety of resources to help participants identify and reach their goals, either through its Web site or on-site workshops and coaching.

“From informal networking evenings to six-week courses to short-term seminars with businesses, Life by Design NW is a major initiative that provides a community-wide resource for older adults in, or thinking about, retirement,” said Karen Shimada. “The partnership improves individual lives while strengthening their roles in society through civic engagement, employment (paid or unpaid) or lifelong learning through higher and community education.”

The program is a collaboration of nine partners, each a major local institution chosen for the contribution they bring to the project. The partners include lead agency Portland Community College, as well as AARP Oregon, Portland State University, Express Employment Professionals, Hands On Greater Portland, Multnomah County Library, NW Natural, Oregon Public Broadcasting and Morrison Child and Family Services.

This fall, the program will offer non-credit, six-week classes through PCC Community Education, including:

The Inner Work of Life Planning – Students will get a sense of purpose and passion for the second half of their life. They’ll explore the meaning of retirement, power of community and the importance of a sense of place in planning for the future. The class is held Mondays, Nov. 10 through Dec. 15, in Room 209, Central Portland Workforce Training Center, 1626 S.E. Water Ave. (across from OMSI).

Coffee and Conversation Networking Nights are monthly get-togethers for mid-career professionals and anyone in transition who is interested in meaningful work to discuss topics, brainstorm ideas and network with peers. These meetings include such topics as inner journeys with David Rozell (Wednesday, Oct. 29) and re-designing your resume with Dawn Rasmussen (Nov. 26). These take place from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., Central Portland WTC.

Encore Agenda is a new program in partnership with Springboard Innovation in Social Entrepreneurship for adults 50 or older who want an opportunity to make money while doing some good. The program kicks off at 6 to 8:30 p.m., Friday, Oct. 17, in the auditorium, Central Portland WTC, with national Purpose Prize winner Gary Maxworthy speaking about his experiences as an older adult social entrepreneur and guest Judy Goggin, vice president of Civic Ventures.

Life by Design NW also has developed customized workshops to meet the needs of employers. These include brown bag presentations, exhibits at human resource benefit fairs, or half-day workshops in retirement planning. Recent programs with HR directors and employees from the Oregon Independent College Association and Siltronic have taken place.

Life By Design is a response to the growing need to serve the older adult as they move on to retirement or even think about retirement. Earlier this year, the program was awarded $825,000 by The Atlantic Philanthropies to provide programs and services and connecting older adults with community resources. A grant of $200,000 from Meyer Memorial Trust was awarded to develop a model for engaging older adults in volunteer and non-profit work.

For more information about classes and services, contact Life by Design Northwest at (503) 731-6650, or or email

About James Hill

James G. Hill, an award-winning journalist and public relations writer, has been the Communications Specialist for the Office of Public Affairs at Portland Community College since November of 1999. A graduate of Portland State University, J... more »


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