Age – What’s in a Number Anyway?

Tags: Federation, Volunteer

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Article reprinted with permission from Cleveland Jewish News.

By Regina Brett

Older means bolder!

That’s my new motto.

I turn 60 in May.

People no longer card me. Instead they offer me senior discounts.

I don’t plan on plastic surgery or Botox to iron this birthday suit. To me, the secret to a vibrant life isn’t the skin you are in. It’s keeping curious and vibrant on the inside.

After all, 60 is the new 50, right?

Who knows? This new math makes my mind melt. I’ve heard it all:

“If 60 is the new 40 and 40 is the new 30 then 20 must be the new 10.”

“If 50 is the new 70, when is the new dead?’

“However old you are is the new 30.”

This is the only one I agree with 100 percent: “Sixty is a great age to be. Ask anyone who is 70.”

So far, I haven’t heard anyone say 80 is the new 70. I think by 80, you’re so glad to still be alive after losing so many people you loved, you don’t care that you’re old.

Yes, I used the word old, because at some point, we are old.

We went from calling people old to elderly to seniors. Elderhostel became Road Scholar. The American Association of Retired Persons now goes by AARP.

The key to staying young is to live vibrantly and make an impact with your life. Or better yet, an “IMPACT!”

The Jewish Federation of Cleveland kicked off “IMPACT!” on Jan. 7 at the Mandel Jewish Community Center in Beachwood. I love that it’s all caps and has an exclamation point. It’s like getting a whack on the head or a loud wake-up call or a zap with a stun gun.

Some people hate exclamation points. One editor I knew often complained about writers who overuse them. He told me when he was in college, a professor gave them a gift on the last day of class: One exclamation point for the rest of their lives. Use it wisely, he told the class, you only get one.

So make your life an exclamation point. If you believe you only get one life, make sure this one counts.

IMPACT! will lift you off the couch and into life, into making the last act of your life the best act of your life.

What will you do for an encore?

You can travel just for fun or build homes with Habitat for Humanity in Africa or teach conversational English in Israel or bring medical supplies from MedWish to countries in Central and South America.

IMPACT! stands for “Individuals Making Powerful Active Contributions Together.”

The Federation’s Jewish Volunteer Network offers so many ways to volunteer all over Cleveland. The Federation’s website cites the 2011 Greater Cleveland Jewish Population Study which showed nearly a third of Jewish people in Cleveland are Baby Boomers.

We have so many talented, wise, experienced people in our Cleveland Jewish community. Dick Goldberg, former national director of Coming of Age, wants to turn that “source” into a “force” for good.

If you want to feed the hungry, you can help the Cleveland Foodbank or RIAS Kosher Food Bank.

If you want to save the Earth, you can help out at Cleveland Metroparks, the Hebrew Cultural Gardens or Shaker Nature Center.

If you’re a caretaker or healer type, you can volunteer at the Hospice of Cleveland Clinic or Montefiore hospice.

If you want to educate others, you can tutor with the Jewish Federation of Cleveland or Kids in Need.

If you love older people, you can spend time at Mandel JCC Senior Lunch Plus Program or Menorah Park Center for Senior Living.

If you want to lift the poor, you can rock babies at Providence House or feed the hungry at the City Mission.

No matter what age you are, if you woke up today, you are still very much alive and needed somewhere.

How much life you have left in you has nothing to do with how many years you have left. The key to your encore performance is to start from the inside out.

As Howard Thurman said: “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

At every age.

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Learn More: Federation, Volunteer