ReServe — the 21st Century Model for 55+ Professionals

We just celebrated our first decade with Powering Transformative Change: ReServe’s 10-Year Anniversary Summit. Held on November 10, 2015, the event drew nearly 200 attendees from around the country to attend the full-house, multi-media event at Fordham University’s dynamic Lincoln Center campus.

The Summit began with an overview of the proven, quantifiable impact ReServists – experienced professionals age 55+ – have had in our communities over the past decade.

Jennifer Palacio Profile

Panelists included ReServists serving at the frontlines of health care, education, capacity building, and poverty fighting.

A number of our nation’s leading social innovators and influencers engaged in lively, interactive panel discussions focusing on ReServists’ achievements in schools, non-profits, city agencies, hospitals, and senior centers – and how this could shape social policy and practice for an emerging generation of older adults. Our panelists included Jacquelyn James, PhD, Director of the Center on Aging & Work at Boston College; Kathryn Lawler, MPP, Manager of the Aging and Health Resources for the Atlanta Regional Commission; Ruth Finkelstein, ScD, Associate Director of the International Longevity Center-Columbia University Aging Center; Janna Heyman, PhD, Professor and Chair of the Henry C. Ravazzin Center at Fordham University; Matt Klein, Executive Director of Center of Economic Opportunity, NYC; Deborah Brooks, Education Director, Youth and Adult Services, Fedcap; and Donna Corrado, Commissioner of Aging (DFTA).

The panelists quickly reached a consensus: ReServe provides a 21st century model by which society no longer views older adults as an age-dependency “problem” but rather as agents of change addressing society’s enduring challenges. A selection of outstanding ReServists—Jennifer Palacio, Fernando Muniz, Susan Erlich, and Mary Ordal—on the frontline in healthcare, education, capacity building, and fighting poverty joined the panel discussion. They brought to life all of the research presented by recounting their own inspiring, often moving, experiences in the field. Special guest Doug Rauch, the former president of Trader Joe’s and founder of The Daily Table, closed the event with the keynote address, recounting his own “second act” that echoes ReServe’s own core mission and values.

Stay tuned for more videos and upcoming announcements about ReServe initiatives resulting from our landmark Summit event. In the meantime, we wanted to share the following links and highlights with you:

VIDEO: ReServe’s 10 Year Lookback

VIDEO: Building a New Life Stage


For photos and highlights from the day, visit (and like) our Facebook page:

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Two million hours of service powered by 8,000 ReServists yields social and economic gains

Each day, 10,000 baby boomers turn 65. They are the best educated, most experienced older population in history. For ten years, ReServe has embraced the potential of this population, making a tremendous impact in our schools, non-profits, city agencies, hospitals, and senior centers. The collective impact is impressive: more than 8,000 “ReServists” have contributed two million hours of service in their community representing an economic investment of more than $30 million.

The transformative power of ReServists – experienced professionals age 55+ – in their communities will be the focus of ReServe’s Tenth Anniversary Summit on Tuesday, November 10, from 9 AM to 1 PM, at Fordham University, Lincoln Center. The Summit will feature an overview of ReServe’s accomplishments and impact over the past ten years, with the goal of informing practice and policy for a new generation of older adults.

Leading policy-makers, educators, health care providers, and social innovators will present a compelling argument for shifting the conversation about aging from one that depicts a “silver tsunami” to one that presents “silver linings.” Armed with evidence gained over ten years of practice, ReServe will demonstrate the tremendous opportunity to engage this growing cohort in solving social problems.

Keynote speaker, Doug Rauch – former president of Trader Joe’s and founder of The Daily Table – will share how, upon his retirement, he channeled his experience and passion to a new social venture – The Daily Table – a not-for-profit retail store that provides a variety of healthy, convenient, and affordable food.

ReServe’s Tenth Anniversary Summit is free of charge and takes place at Fordham University’s Lincoln Center campus, from 9 AM to 1 PM. Confirmed speakers include Jacquelyn James, PhD, Director of the Center on Aging & Work at Boston College; Kathryn Lawler, MPP, Manager of the Aging and Health Resources for the Atlanta Regional Commission; Ruth Finkelstein, ScD, Associate Director of the International Longevity Center-Columbia University Aging Center; and Janna Heyman, PhD, Professor and Chair of the Henry C. Ravazzin Center at Fordham University.


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Dynamic Duo: Dr. Kofi A. Boateng, Executive Director, WHDC, and Caroline St. Ange, ReServe Accounts Manager

On September 25th, the crisp second day of fall, nearly 100 older Harlem adults gathered at the Jackie Robinson Senior Citizen Center, to celebrate the culmination of the West Harlem Summer Senior Employment Program (SSEP). This ambitious annual summertime community-empowerment program represents a groundbreaking collaboration between ReServe Inc. and West Harlem Development Corporation (WHDC). This year’s SSEP employed 100 Harlem residents, age 55 plus, in various nonprofits and community-oriented agencies throughout Harlem. The seniors worked in positions ranging from website design to facilities maintenance, tallying up an impressive 11,000 hours of service for their community.

Dr. Kofi A. Boateng, WHDC’s Executive Director, noted, “It’s just great to honor the participants for all of their success. Together, we have achieved something bigger than ourselves and for the greater good.” Addressing the enthusiastic attendees, Betsy Conrad, Associate Director for ReServe, added, “I want you to know that you are part of a national movement, transforming how we view our older fellow citizens. Your experience, skills, and commitment are powerful resources for building community and providing solutions.”

Let’s Get It Started: Jackie Robinson Senior Center Staff Makes the Rounds

Upon receiving their certificates of commendation, the attending SSEP participants, for whom a number of their children and grandchildren came to the event, beamed with pride. Participant Pledger Day stated, “We still have a lot of energy and something to give. This program allows us to do so.” Olga Salcedo, a Social Services Coordinator who supervised the Spanish-speaking participants at Our Lady of Lourdes Church, enthused about the program’s galvanizing impact on the summer seniors. “They’re engaged. You can seem them becoming more confident with each day.” The celebration also drew a number of SSEP Partners, the nonprofits hiring the summertime seniors. Vivian Williams Kurutz, Wellness Director of the Harlem Center for Healthy Living (HCHL), summed up employers’ enthusiasm for the program: “We love the value of the summertime ReServists’ experience, the value of their work ethic, and the value of their maturity and respect.” She added, “The ReServists helped us achieve our goals and at a fraction of what it would have otherwise cost us.”

As the first program of its kind, the annual SSEP helps make West Harlem self-empowerment a reality by providing part-time employment to Community Board 9 residents, age 55 and older. The positions enable the senior participants to utilize and expand their skills, help better their community, and earn a modest but game-changing stipend. WHDC funds the stipends through a $216,000 grant provided to ReServe. The benefits are twofold and immediate. Local nonprofits gain fully funded, motivated workers. And with the stipend — the game-changing ReServe program innovation — Harlem receives yet another boost: seniors often reinvest their earnings within their community, strengthening a whole range of local businesses.

ReServe Team: Carol Scafati, Suzanne Mack, and Caroline St. Ange

In his closing remarks, Dr. Bouteng stated to thunderous applause, “We hope to expand the SSEP to a year-round program.”

Summarizing the outstanding success of the SSEP model, ReServe’s Associate Director Betsy Conrad thanked Dr. Bouteng, Dean Morris, WHDC’s Director of Programs, and the Jackie Robinson Senior Center staff for their efforts. Ms. Conrad concluded to enthusiastic applause by noting, “Our long-term goal is to take programs like the SSEP to the national level.” Having started with 60 seniors in 2013, the SSEP has grown to over 100 participants, with a growing list of applicants seeking entry as word has spread of the program’s success.

[Click here to view the full photo album on ReServe's Facebook]

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West Harlem Development Corporation (WHDC) and ReServe proudly mark the successful completion of the third annual Summer Senior Employment Program (SSEP) with a special afternoon celebration. The event unfolds on September 25th at the Jackie Robinson Senior Center, in Harlem, between 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m.

This year, WHDC and Reserve employed 100 Harlem residents, age 55 plus, in various nonprofits throughout the Harlem Community. West Harlem seniors worked in positions that ranged from administration to facilities support.

The SSEP is the first program of its kind dedicated to West Harlem self-empowerment by providing part-time employment to Community Board 9 residents, age 55 and older. The positions enable Harlem’s summertime ReServists to utilize their skills in helping better their community and to earn a modest stipend.

Stipends are funded through a $216,000 grant from WHDC provided to ReServe Seniors Inc. With this stipend — a unique ReServe program innovation — the summertime ReServists often reinvest their earnings within their community, thereby providing the added benefit of strengthening local businesses.

In addition, local nonprofits gain fully-funded, valuable workers that help further their mission.

As Dean Morris, Director of Programs for WHDC notes, “We value Reserve’s expertise in helping us deliver a program that’s having not only economic impacts but also social [and] emotional impacts among the summertime ReServists as well.” Christine McMahon,President and CEO of Fedcap, proudly notes, “ReServe’s innovating strategy in engaging older professionals for part-time service is a win-win for both the community and these dedicated ReServists.”

The end-of-the-summer program celebration will feature a special awards segment, honoring those ReServists who distinguished themselves in their work. Additionally, notable supporters of the WHDC-ReServe partnership will address the program honorees and milestone achievements.

SSEP started with 60 seniors in 2013, and has grown to 100 participants as of 2015, with many more wanting to be included in the next round. A subsidiary of Fedcap Rehabilitative Services, ReServe is an innovative nonprofit that places 55 + professionals with nonprofits and government agencies that need their expertise. WHDC promotes neighborhood growth, empowerment, and quality of life in West Harlem.

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New York City

Judy Willett

Prior to joining ReServe, Judy served as National Director of Village to Village (VtV) Network, a peer- to-peer nonprofit that helps communities develop and run “Villages” across the country. Villages are consumer-driven nonprofits that help people age 50+ remain in their own homes, in their own communities. Under Judy’s leadership the VtV Network built membership in the Village Movement nationally from 0 to 30,000 members with 160 open Villages in 40 States, and 120 Villages in development.

Before that, Judy was Founding Executive Director of Beacon Hill Village in Boston, the first Village in the U.S.

Q: You recently joined ReServe. What are your impressions of it so far?

A: I am so delighted to be part of ReServe Greater Boston and the national ReServe movement. Using talented professionals to help better our communities is one of the most important things that we as a society can be doing.

Q: What are your priorities and vision for ReServe Greater Boston?

A: The people who founded ReServe Greater Boston, previous director Carol Greenfield, staff, advisory council and board have all done such a stellar job. I hope to be able to take it to the next level, to expand opportunities with important nonprofits and partners, and to really help to expand nationally the whole idea of the ReServe approach and encore careers.

Q: What do you see as some of your biggest challenges in accomplishing your goals for ReServe Greater Boston?

A: One of the main issues is ageism. We live in a youth-oriented culture that often looks at middle-aged and older people as liabilities, not assets. It is critical that we all work together to change that attitude, which limits the opportunities that are available to older individuals.  We have to make sure that people really value the experience and professionalism that people 55+ bring to the business world, and get the message out that ReServe offers an excellent opportunity for nonprofits to fill gaps in staffing from this amazing talent pool.

Q: Tell us about your background and interest in aging.

A: I have always enjoyed working with people of all ages, but chose to focus on working with the Baby Boom and elder Generations. I have a Masters Degree in Social Work/Gerontology from Boston University, and about 14 years ago I helped to found  Beacon Hill Village, to help launch a movement to help people stay in their homes and communities, and lead rich, expansive and impactful lives.

Q: Your work with Village to Village Network seems well aligned with what ReServe is doing. Can you tell us about that?

A: The VtV Network helps groups of people and nonprofits start their own Villages. It is really a nonprofit that is dedicated to offering anything and everything that people want and need to help them stay in their homes and communities for the rest of their lives. It provides connections to volunteers, exercise classes, personal trainers, transportation, meals, computer classes, and more.

Over the years many Village members would call and say that they wanted to work part time and give back to the community, and we often referred them to ReServe. I had worked with Carol and knew about ReServe for many years.

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Not only are ReServists talented and experienced, they are also versatile and love a challenge.

Nora has been a ReServist for nearly two years, and is presently
working with the nonprofit American Friends of Jordan River Village (AFJRV).  Nora’s background was in office management at a real estate investment company where she worked as an executive assistant to the president/owner.  She took her administrative, organizational and bookkeeping skills and segued them into the position posted by ReServe Partner AFJRV.  “Nora is amazing,” Executive Director Gail Androphy of AFJRV told us.  Nora was able to assess the organization’s bookkeeping situation even before she started working there. When she came in she was able to “clean up our financial picture,” according to Gail.

Nora is Bookkeeper/Administrator and is considered the engine that makes the organization run efficiently. AFJRV has a virtual office .. that is to say, officers and staff work from various home locations throughout the Northeast.  Nora works out of New York City.  She is a trusted and valued member of the team, and records donations, keeps the books current and accurate, handles the mail, writes out checks for the ED to sign, and much more as needs arise. The primary contact between all staff is email and phone, and if necessary on occasion, they meet in person.  Nora is so pleased that AFJRV appreciates her work – “They are such good people.” The feeling is mutual.

ReServe is proud of the successful match of Nora and AFJRV.  This is just one of many success stories in our ten years of existence.  According to Gail, who described her experience with ReServe as “wonderful top to bottom,”  ReServe was helpful in finding AFJRV the candidate who’s the right fit for the role. In addition, Gail found in Nora the qualifications they were seeking: expertise in administration, accounting background, and she was “patient with us.”

Written by Cristina Pastor

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Meet Judge Monica Drinane, the newest member of the ReServe Board of Directors! Judge Drinane most recently served as the Supervising Judge of the Bronx Family Court.  She retired from the bench in late 2014, and driven by a passionate commitment to support educational opportunities for youth and young adults, joined the ReServe board.  Judge Drinane began her career as a teacher for inner city youth in New Haven, CT., and later returned to New York to study law at NYU and begin a career in juvenile justice. She served for eight years as the attorney in charge of the Juvenile Rights Division for the Legal Aid Society, and in 2004 was appointed Judge for Family Court in the Bronx, where she heard cases involving neglect, abuse, domestic violence, custody, visitation and delinquency issues. In 2007, she was appointed Supervising Judge of Bronx Family Court.

Judge Drinane has an abiding interest in supporting and advocating on behalf of youth in care and seeking alternatives to school suspensions.  She currently serves on the Leadership Council for South Bronx Rising Together and The Commission on School to Prison Pipeline.  At ReServe, she is using her prodigious energy and talents to help us develop and strengthen our education programs, and is leveraging her city and statewide contacts on our behalf.  Judge Drinane is a tireless advocate for youth and young adults, and we are honored to have her serve on our board!

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We are pleased to announce the third annual Summer Seniors Employment Program (SSEP). Sponsored by West Harlem Development Corporation (WHDC) in partnership with ReServe – a NYC nonprofit that places professionals age 55+ with nonprofits, government agencies and community organizations that need their expertise – SSEP connects residents of Community District 9 with local part-time, paid positions that serve and benefit their community.

SSEP is a win-win for the West Harlem community. For residents, this is a great opportunity to remain active over the summer of 2015 and to utilize your talents and develop new skills, while earning $10/hour for up to 120 hours. For local nonprofits, SSEP is a great resource to engage community members to work on vital projects at no cost to the organization.

“For the third year in a row, our partnership with ReServe, will allow us to make a difference in the lives of West Harlem seniors,” said Dean Morris, Director of Programs for WHDC. “We value ReServe’s expertise in helping us deliver a program that’s having not only economic impacts but social/emotional impacts as well. Every year the program becomes more popular and is highly anticipated.”

“Through ReServe’s innovating matching strategy and expertise in engaging older professionals for part-time service work, ReServe is poised to help WHDC expand its impact in West Harlem and throughout New York City,” said Christine McMahon, President and Chief Executive Officer of Fedcap.

Over the past 2 summers SSEP has placed 138 individuals with over 30 organizations, resulting in 19,200 hours of service. This year’s goal, supported by a $216,000 grant from West Harlem Development Corp., is to place 100 senior residents of Community District 9 in part-time community-based jobs.

Participants must be 55 years of age or older, reside in West Harlem’s Community District 9, and be committed to serving their community while earning a stipend of $10/hour. ReServe and WHDC will host information sessions, which are mandatory for new program participants. The sessions are:

  • Thursday, April 23, 1:30pm – 3:00pm at Hamilton Grange Library, 503 W. 145th St. – Auditorium
  • Tuesday, April 28, 12:00pm – 1:30pm at George Bruce Library, 518 W. 125th St. – Auditorium. Both sessions will include Spanish translation.

To register for a participant information session or to learn more about the program email or call 646-476-3394, ext. 201.

If your organization is interested in participating as an SSEP host site, please contact Noelle Minter at or call 646-412-6502.

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ReServe has rolled out a series of monthly workshop to bring additional value to the ReServe community.

The ReServED initiative seeks to provide ReServists with resources beyond work placements. Each month in 2015, ReServe will sponsor an interactive, thought-provoking lecture or workshop related to continued participation in community life and/or the workforce.

“The idea behind ReServED is to strengthen the community that already exists among ReServists and our partner organizations,” said Noelle Minter, ReServe Assistant Director. “Through ReServED, ReServists can strengthen their skills and address various issues pertaining to returning to the workforce.’

On January 22nd, the ReServED monthly workshop series kicked off with an exclusive look into AARP’s new Life Reimagined program. ReServe partnered with AARP to offer three Life Reimagined workshops in January at AARP’s office in Midtown Manhattan. Life Reimagined is about opening the door to new possibilities, and the workshops provide participants with tools, resources and inspirational content to help them decide what to do in the next stages of their lives.

Workshop facilitator William Hamer, a nonprofit development executive who has been through the Life Reimagined program, praised the efforts of ReServe and AARP in presenting the workshops.

“ReServe and Life Reimagined are a perfect marriage,” he said. “ReServists are exploring new possibilities and looking to give back, and Life Reimagined lets them take a deeper look at their passions and commitments, while helping them stay connected to people who are having the same experience.”

During the workshop participants introduced themselves and talked about “triggers,” or events that drive major life changes. Some reported feeling stuck. Others wanted to develop new skills or pursue interests and passions they never had time for. Some talked about losing loved ones or jobs, and becoming ReServists to give back to the community.

“Triggers can be a launching point for new possibilities,” Hamer said. “Reimagining ourselves can help us understand our purpose in life.”
For the next ReServED workshop, over 60 people gathered at Fedcap headquarters on February 19 to hear author and activist Ashton Applewhite discuss ageism, and common misperceptions related to age and aging. Applewhite is the author of a terrific blog, Yo, is this Ageist? and a presentation, This Chair Rocks, that dispels myths about the later stages of life.

In an era of longer life expectancy, chronological age is less of an indicator of what individuals are truly capable of. Applewhite dispelled myths about aging and mobility, memory, sex and intimacy, and the belief that health care costs for the elderly are always higher. Only about three percent of the approximately 4,800 people over the age of 65 who pass away every day in the United States incurred medical costs that are considered very expensive.

“In a political system that doesn’t way to pay for the health care of its most vulnerable citizens, the greatest worry for people who are aging is becoming a burden to family,” she said.

Applewhite offered some wonderful tips to the enthusiastic audience. We are all older persons in training, she said, as she asked them to visualize their 90-year-old selves, and then imagine their current selves walking into the room. What would the elder self say to the younger? Probably you would tell them to take risks, travel, go to shows, use your imagination and pursue your passions.

“We need to overturn the notion that for two-thirds of our life we are in decline,” she said. “The more you understand about aging the more accepting you are of older people.”

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