I would like to share with you some exciting work being done by our Community for All Ages Coalition.

The 58-member group’s purpose is to ensure our Eastern Jackson County community is collaboratively and proactively working together so that we are prepared for the challenges and opportunities created by a doubling of the age 65-plus population in our community in the next 20 years. In previous columns I have shared some our efforts on the challenge side of the equation, our Care Connection Website – careconnection.mymcpl.org – and our focus on mobility/transportation challenges.

Now we have begun our work with the opportunity side of the equation which we refer to as civic engagement. With all of us boomers marching to toward age 65 at the rate of 2,100 per month in our metro area, think about the talents and energy of this group. There’s a tremendous opportunity for positive impact if some of this group got engaged in the community in a new way and gave back in this new phase of life. That’s what we mean by civic engagement.

Our task force chaired by Karen Bartz is exploring how we help people discover and plan for what they want to accomplish in their post-career phase of life. Some may wish to give back to the community by volunteering for a nonprofit, local government or civic group, while others may wish to begin a new career that may be community service related (which is being referred to as an encore career by some).

We are exploring how our community can assist people to figure out what they are passionate about and help them make these dreams a reality. What systems and tools does our community need to make this possible, and how can your community foundation help make that happen?

Most boomers will be able to remain actively involved in the community for another 15 or 20 years. And at age 65 we no longer want to be referred to as seniors. That’s reserved for those much older. So one of the big questions we are wrestling with is just how do we talk about this post-career group of boomers.

It’s a tremendous opportunity for our community and your community foundation is very excited about improving areas communities through enhancing civic engagement. If you have thoughts or ideas on this topic I would be pleased to hear from you. (hanson@thcf.org, 816-836-8189).

Phil Hanson is president and CEO of the Truman Heartland Community Foundation, based in Independence.