Yellow Springs Man Joins Parker Center Staff for Encore Career

Del Mar Fellow Funded Through Dayton Foundation

A Yellow Springs, Ohio, retiree has joined the staff of United Church Homes’ Ruth Frost Parker Center for Abundant Aging, thanks to a grant from the Dayton Foundation, with plans to develop a video-based curriculum about ageism. It is the latest way the Parker Center is supporting UCH’s mission to transform aging.

The Dayton Foundation selected the Parker Center to participate in the Del Mar Fellows Encore Initiative. The foundation matched nonprofits with highly skilled, older professionals who work on significant community issues. The Parker Center was chosen based on community needs, its ability to create systemic change and opportunities for collaborations. The
position was funded for a year with a potential renewal for up to two years.

Encore Careers

Eric Johnson, whose first career included developing video-based learning programs for youth and educators, is working with Parker Center Executive Director Rev. Beth Long-Higgins to create the curriculum and videos for small-group education. The goal of the program is to reframe participants’ perceptions of aging and challenge the prevalence of ageism in American culture.

Eric Johnson Del Mar Fellow
Eric Johnson, Del Mar Fellow for the Ruth Frost Parker Center for Abundant Aging, a position funded by the Dayton Foundation

How people define retirement is changing. Most people expect to work in the second half of their lives, and many Americans are seeking encore careers to help them continue to express purpose and stay engaged. According to the Age Wave study by Merrill Lynch, roughly 72 percent of Americans under age 50 say they want to keep working after they retire.

Eric describes himself as semiretired. He still creates teacher education kits with Bloomington, Indiana-based Solution Tree and runs an Airbnb at his residence. “I’m working at home, at my own pace, but I’m very excited to have an encore fellow job,” Eric said. “Beth has given me many book recommendations, and I’ve already learned so much about the field of aging services.”

Parker Center Earns State Recognition

The Center for Abundant Aging provides a forum for interdisciplinary learning and collaboration through advocacy, education, engagement and outreach. Each year, the center hosts a symposium (see related story) and, in 2018, was awarded the Aging Services Impact Award by LeadingAge Ohio. This year, the Parker Center received the Outstanding Area Agency on Aging/Provider Partnership Award for its work with the PSA Area 2 Area Agency on Aging, Rainbow Elder Care of Greater Dayton and the Public Health Department of Dayton & Montgomery County to plan the first LGBT Horizons of Aging Summit in Dayton.

The encore fellow position has already created new opportunities for UCH. Eric attended a class on creating podcasts and is excited to move in that direction.