Baby boomers shifting gears
By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Northborough – The generation of baby boomers is reinventing concepts of work, and creating new definitions of “senior” and “retirement.” Local boomers over age 50 met Jan. 29 at the Northborough Senior Center for the first of a three-part series of workshops titled “Baby Boomers Shifting Gears.”
Instructed by Mia Louik and Joan Ryan, the workshops were designed for boomers finding themselves in various transitions including: currently in retirement or considering it, in retirement involuntarily, full-time work to contract jobs, paid career to volunteer opportunities, or any combination.
Guest speaker at the first session was a board member of the Friends of the Northborough Senior Center, Anita Hagspiel, who was instrumental in bringing the series to the center. As her work situation changed, she began visiting the center more frequently and now she’s welcoming others around her age, which is 61.
“I noticed there are a lot of people who are in their 70s, 80s and 90s at the senior center, but I didn’t see many in my age group,” Hagspiel said. “So I thought it would be helpful if we could promote a program to include a younger group of people.”
The workshop participants included self-identified boomers, one of whom was registered by her mother, and another was registered by his wife. Hagspiel registered her brother as a gift for his 60th birthday.
“He’s been a builder and carpenter for the majority of his career, and I know he’s into different things now,” she said. “I thought he would get some value out of the workshop and he would contribute to it, too.”
As guest speaker, Hagspiel shared her experience of clocking overtime with a long commute while working 22 years as an energy efficiency consultant at National Grid. Then she shifted gears in a different direction after receiving an email blast offering a package.
“There were several reorganizations at National Grid,” she explained. “None of us in energy efficiency thought we were going to be offered the package. We had about 26 days to decide. It was really quite nerve-wracking to think about it, but it was at a point in my life when I was 60 and wondering how long I’m going to be on this treadmill. Even though you love your job, it can really get draining after awhile.”
She decided to accept the package and continues working as an energy efficiency consultant. Now she averages less than 20 hours of work a week.
“It was a difficult decision, but it made sense to take the package because of my age, the travel and the stress,” she said. “Now that I have time for myself, I’m actually able to read a book, do fun things around the house, or go out for lunch with friends.”
She’s also able to spend more time volunteering at one of her favorite attractions: Tower Hill Botanic Garden in Boylston.
“Tower Hill is an incredible place,” she said. “I volunteer there in many capacities, but mainly as a reception person, greeting people at the front desk.”
Hagspiel would like to see the boomers’ workshop series held periodically.
“We’re hoping this course will keep being offered, and it would be great if it was also offered at other centers,” she said. “I think this course can also promote friendships. When people in our age group leave their job, they think they’re going to be lonely. But there are other places where you can meet new friends. It’s hard to make changes, but when you do it, it really ends up being a good thing a lot of times. That’s happening for me.”
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