Intel Encore Fellow retiree finds joyful work at PCC’s Rock Creek Campus

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Retiring is a big deal. For some, it’s like volunteering to jump off a cliff. For Susan Mellon, an Intel Encore Fellow now punching the clock in the Learning Garden at Rock Creek Campus, it was not a leap but a joyful glide.

A bit of a wanderer, Mellon traveled throughout the Southwest and stopped and started college classes more than once. The one steady link in her string of adventures was Intel. First in supply chain logistics and later in human resources, she worked for the Intel Corporation for 25 years. When the company approached her with a retirement package that included an opportunity to serve as an Encore Fellow, she accepted.

The Encore Fellows Program is a subset of Social Ventures Partners (SVP), the largest global network of engaged donors in the world. SVP matches seasoned professionals with local nonprofits in need of professional expertise for a 1,000-hour project, typically over 12 months. Intel pays the SVP stipend, and SVP pays PCC to employ Mellon.

Mellon saw the Encore Program as a bridge, a transition to life after Intel with a focus on making a contribution.

“I had to provide my experience, job skills, and areas I was passionate about in the potential Job opportunity as part of the application process,” she said. “SVP does the matching with the sponsor’s needs and the applicant’s desires. Aligning my interest and passion for gardening and sustainability, as well as location was very important to me.”

While Mellon was working on her application, Rock Creek’s Sustainability Coordinator Elaine Cole, was busy filling out forms seeking an Encore Fellow to assist in the Learning Garden and with sustainability practices.

“We are always looking for ways to build staff on a tight budget,” she said, “and this was a way to get a highly skilled professional on our team. Susan is a great asset and a perfect match. She takes things in and is up for anything and open to everything. She is an exceptional role model for our young folks in the garden.”

Mellon added, “I came out to Rock Creek in November and met with Elaine and Nora (Lindsey). It was a sunny day and I had the best job interview ever. Everyone I’ve met is collaborative and open minded. I enjoy the positive energy students bring every day.”

About Encore, Mellon encourages people who are contemplating retirement to look into the program. She added, “It’s about sharing what you know with people who need your experience. I’m excited about being able to contribute. I will leave Rock Creek a much richer person.”

The SVP Portland chapter was started in 2001. Since then, it has invested $2.8 million in 26 nonprofit organizations in the Portland metro area.

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