Tuesday, July 19, 2011

What’s Next after Retiring? A Story of One Woman’s Reflection and Revelation

By Denise Botticher

Almost a year to the day after her retirement from a high-pressure job with the City of New Orleans as its Chief Administrative Officer, Brenda Hatfield started her “What’s next?” The “What’s next?” came to her after achieving a successful career of nearly 45-years in public service and corporate business in addition to active involvement in the community.

What’s next for Brenda meant taking a full year to reconnect with friends and family before taking on a new adventure. “I really had never taken time to be free and relax without having a schedule or boss,” said Brenda. “The idea of retiring really frightened me because I had always worked. I’m energetic and goal oriented. The joke with my family was ‘She’s really not going to retire.’

Brenda isn’t alone when it comes to planning life after retirement and taking time to be with friends and family. According to a recent AARP survey of over 400 Louisianans who are 50-plus years in age, many said they, too, wanted to reconnect with loved ones. Thirty-eight percent said they were looking forward to planning vacations and traveling, and 20 percent said they were looking forward to pursuing their hobbies and interests.

While Brenda was cleaning out a drawer, she came upon pages of notes she had written outlining her personal vision. She unfolded the papers and reflected upon what she had written some time ago. Enjoy my home. Community involvement. Education.

“That’s when I started looking online for opportunities in Gonzales where I live. Late one night, I opened my email and saw an opportunity from AARP Louisiana. It was a recruitment piece to become Louisiana’s next volunteer state president. I said, ‘That’s it!’, and I immediately started writing my cover letter,” said Brenda.

After a competitive process, AARP appointed Brenda as Louisiana’s State President, the top volunteer leadership position representing nearly 500,000 members in the state. “I’m honored to have been chosen to lead the volunteer efforts in Louisiana for AARP,” said Hatfield. “AARP has been a longtime trusted partner and advocate for the 50-plus population in Louisiana on issues such as health care, long-term care, economic security and livable communities. I’m excited to work with AARP and help all Louisianans live their best life.”

Hatfield will serve an initial two-year appointment and will lead AARP’s Executive Council as its Chair. The council, in collaboration with Louisiana’s State Director and staff, develops the framework for the state’s strategic plan and implements planned activities and legislative initiatives in the areas of economic security, health and livable communities.

“I was serious when I said I wanted to find something meaningful. And I’ve found it,” said Brenda.

Do you have a story to tell about your “What’s next?” Please share it with us at www.aarp.org/shareyourthoughts.

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