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Chapter 2: Older Michiganders Reimagine Their Lives

PHOTO: Former police officer Tom Hendershot reimagined his life and is now the owner of Antiquities Company, a Grand Rapids-area business specializing in natural history exhibits. Photo courtesy of T. Hendershot.
PHOTO: Former police officer Tom Hendershot reimagined his life and is now the owner of Antiquities Company, a Grand Rapids-area business specializing in natural history exhibits. Photo courtesy of T. Hendershot.
March 2, 2015

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – As many Michiganders round the corner on the second half of their lives, they're not slowing down, but instead taking off in entirely new directions thanks in part to a program from AARP.

It's called Life Reimagined, and the goal is to help people over 50 prepare to write the next chapter in their lives.

Jennifer Feuerstein, AARP Michigan’s associate state director, says that could mean many different things.

"It could be starting a business, or transitioning your career skills into a whole new field, maybe it's getting healthy or losing some weight, it can be relationships where people over 50 start getting back into the dating world again," she says.

Feuerstein points out the program offers free online tools and resources as well as in-person workshops to help people figure out where their skills, talents, and passions lie, and to explore options for the next phase of their lives.

When Tom Hendershot retired from the Grand Rapids police force, he never dreamed he'd start a whole new career.

But after taking a leap of faith, he now spends his days digging for dinosaur fossils and building exhibits for museums around the world through his own small business.

"I love getting up, and going to work,” he says. “I think about engineering things, and how a kid, or an adult for that matter, would like to come up to an exhibit and push a button and hear something growl or roar. I feel more mentally engaged than I have for many years."

Feuerstein says while it can initially be daunting to consider making a life change, many of those who have devoted decades to their career or family find the process quite liberating.

"All of a sudden they can really start exploring their passions and say, 'You know I've been doing one thing my whole life, and now I have the opportunity to do something completely different,'” she points out. “And so people are finding their true purpose and their passion."

Feuerstein adds that this is an exciting time for Michiganders to consider reinventing themselves, as the entire state is going through a transition of sorts.

Life Reimagined is available to all Michiganders, not just AARP members.

Mona Shand, Public News Service - MI