Encore: Purpose, Passion, Paycheck

Heinen's grocery store downtown Cleveland Cleveland Trust Company Building
During a recent visit to Cleveland, Encore.org Founder Marc Freedman spoke about repurposed historic architecture as a metaphor for how adults over the age of 50 can apply their skills and knowledge in an encore career. The historic Cleveland Trust Company building (pictured) was given new life and utility after being repurposed as a Heinen’s grocery store.

Guest blog post by Encore Cleveland Consultant Wendy Albin Sattin, AICP

Earlier this summer, grantees and participants in the Cleveland Foundation’s Encore Cleveland initiative met with Marc Freedman, the founder of Encore.org, for an enlightening discussion about engaging the time, energy and talents of people over the age of 50 to solve community challenges and fill unmet needs.

Marc, a periodic visitor to Cleveland, remarked on the exciting changes in the downtown area since his last visit. In particular, he noted how the historic architecture of the city is being redeveloped and repurposed in creative ways that serve the current and future needs of the community. Drawing comparisons between the city’s physical redevelopment and the ways Greater Clevelanders over the age of 50 can repurpose their skills in encore careers, Marc’s observations included:

  1. The parallels between the character that historic buildings contribute to our downtown’s presence and the value that experienced Clevelanders bring to efforts that tackle our community’s greatest challenges.
  2. Celebrating the history and longevity of downtown’s architecture deepens the impact of Cleveland’s redevelopment and enhances the experience for visitors and residents. Similarly, the experience, skills and talents of Clevelanders over 50 expands our community’s capacity to solve deep-rooted problems. How do we shift thinking to create the same sort of appreciation for an experienced person as for an architectural treasure?
  3. The need to continue to raise awareness of the value, including skills and knowledge cultivated over a lifetime, that Clevelanders over the age of 50 can bring to nonprofits and other agencies.

A final point of discussion revolved around the lack of a national conversation that recognizes the vast resource, both economically and socially, that Americans over 50 represent. Not only is this population living longer and healthier lives, they are redefining what it means to be over the age of 50. They want to contribute to the betterment of society, feel connected to the world and continue to earn an income.  

How will Cleveland benefit from the new model of life after 50? What systems changes do we need to best access the resources that experienced Clevelanders bring to the table?  Marc challenged us to continue the discourse and create more opportunities that empower Clevelanders over 50 to realize personal fulfillment in their next phase of life. We invite you to share your ideas and learn more about the Encore movement in Greater Cleveland here.


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