Many, when asked why they came, indicate that they vacationed here for years. In some cases they bought a second home and, ultimately, retired here. They understood as vacationers that we have year-round golf, beaches that go on for miles, a fascinating and important history and culture, cuisine that causes one to swoon, and an environment and outdoor life of biking, boating, fishing, hiking and roasting of oysters. Snow, ice and year-round gray skies are not part of the landscape. For those weary of shoveling and scraping, slipping and sliding, and fighting cabin fever, that is a very good thing. Many envision that the joy of vacationing here can be translated into a full-time vacation upon retirement.
For some, that works out perfectly. But for others, after a year of daily golf or tennis, a strange twitching begins to occur. One or two days a week of canasta or bridge, photography on the trails or wine on the patio, is great. But isn't there something more?
We truly are blessed to enjoy the Lowcountry's many assets. But perhaps the most under-utilized of these is the intelligence, experience and energy of the many local retirees who have so much to offer. These folks have had amazing careers, have incredible skills and hearts of gold. Through my work, I have met many such people, some through their service on the board of directors of Community Foundation of the Lowcountry. Granted, not all of our board members are retirees. But those who are sometimes have joked about "failing retirement." If day after day of leisure time is their definition of retirement, and that is somehow less satisfying than they anticipated, then I'm so very glad they failed. Having their enthusiasm for a cause, their business or education background, and their moral support, is critical to the success of the Community Foundation.
There are many nonprofits that seek such expertise for their boards or volunteer forces. Local government needs such talent on its boards and commissions. Some struggle to find such leadership.
Are you failing retirement? Good. Civic engagement is one of the most enjoyable and important ways you can spend your time. How do you find a place to use your talents? First, check out Lowcountry Volunteer Connections. Simply click on "Volunteers" at the top of the page. Area nonprofits that need board members or other volunteers have posted opportunities there. Also check out the websites of your county or municipality. Often appointees are needed for various committees, or even volunteers to offer their opinion on surveys or in focus groups.
Retirees: find the sweetness of life and breathe it in. It can be found in living generously and in offering your many talents to help solve the issues of the day here in our amazing Lowcountry.
Denise K. Spencer