Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Another First for Fayette County

Fayette County is the first community in Georgia to launch an older adult volunteer leadership program. It is being funded by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, Hands on Georgia, the Community Foundation, Clothes Less Traveled and Almquist Hansen, LLC.

This non- profit community based program is under the auspices of FACTOR, the Fayette Alliance Coordinating Teamwork, Outreach and Resources.

According to Becky Smith, the executive director of FACTOR, the program is designed to provide active, community spirited older adults with the opportunity to learn more about their community; the important issues and challenges it faces; identify the primary community needs and determine how they can become involved and make a difference by helping to shape Fayette’s future.

Encore! Fayette is patterned after a number of other highly successful programs being operated around the country. Tom Hamall, the organizer of the program, has been involved in establishing other senior and traditional leadership programs in Florida and Ohio. He also served on the board of Leadership Atlanta when he was president of the metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce.

Hamall noted that today’s older citizens are very different from their parents. Their life span is longer and good health generally continues for 20 years after retirement. For many there is now time to get involved in community.

Fayette County has over 15,000 sixty five plus seniors. That number will grow to over 45,000 by 2030. Smith pointed out that these seniors represent a vast and often untapped wealth of experience. “We want to bring together a number of like- minded citizens to learn more about the community, gain new skills, explore new interests and become involved. That is why the acronym “Encore” has given to the program, because its goal is to engage retirees in Enriching and Nurturing Community by Offering their Resources and Experiences to improve the quality of life through civic participation.

Seniors will be recruited to participate through a variety of means including churches, senior centers, civic and social clubs, corporate human resource departments, the local media and other means.

The program will be conducted through a series of sessions over a 10 week period during the months of September, October and November. It is designed to provide participants with knowledge about the history, background, current status and future direction of the County and its municipalities, as well as the current and future programs and needs of its public and private organizations and agencies. It will also showcase the opportunities for volunteer involvement at all levels.

The program components will be presented by a cross-section of government, civic, corporate and non- profit organization officials and staff members.

Interested individuals and organizations can learn more about Encore; arrange for a presentation and receive applications for participation by calling FACTOR at 770-716-2797 or go to the soon to be opened web site at www.encorefayette.org.

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