Over the years, my faith has taught me that it was important to give back some of the success I enjoyed. My wife and I did that by participating in various volunteer programs.
One of those activities was working with an inner city school in North Philadelphia. It was a Catholic grammar school that served about 200 children in a neighborhood where most of the families lived well below the poverty level. The children were over 90% non-Catholic and were 98% minority students. We were giving them an excellent value-based education, that prepares them to succeed in high school.
Eleven of us approached the Archdiocese to take over fifteen of the grammar schools, and run them as independent Catholic Schools. In 2012, we formed Independence Mission Schools (IMS). All but one of our schools is located in below poverty level neighborhoods. We started with a little over 3800 students, and this fall will open with over 4800 students. The student body is ethnically and religiously diverse.
To see these children and the pride and confidence they have in themselves is exciting and very gratifying, when one considers the alternative for their education and prospects for a successful future.
Dick & Jeannette Taylor
I was in the hotel/restaurant business as a manager, administrator, vice-president, owner and consultant for twenty years. At the age of 43, I began a new season of life as a full time missionary, a new husband, and a new father to three children (15, 13, & 8).
My new bride, Jeannette, had been widowed two and a half years after her pilot husband was killed in a U.S.A.F. airplane accident. My prior marriage ended when my wife died of cancer at age 36 and left me alone without children. Jeannette and I met soon after my wife died and married eighteen months later in December 1986.
From the beginning of our marriage, we were determined to give back to the Lord. Our goal was to give a minimum of 10% of our income and to exceed that percentage as He would allow us to by faith. We determined that Jeannette’s role was to be a full time home maker and career Mom. We determined to stay on full time staff with The Navigators for more than thirty years. This is a faith ministry and we are responsible of raising 100% of our annual needs. We praise God because He has always provided for us in mighty ways through the generosity of many people who have believed in our work.
Our choice has always been to minister in the geographic area where we live. In addition, we commit at least 10% of our time to a third world culture by being available to go on short term missions trips to help meet the physical needs of those we can. Looking back, Dick has made over 30 trips and Jeannette has been a part of at least 15 short term mission trips abroad. We believe that wherever there are people, there are needs. Wherever there are needs (Physical, Financial, Spiritual, or Emotional), there is ministry. Our heart is to continue to live out our calling and to minister in whatever context the Lord allows.
By 2011, we had suffered the loss of two of our children to cancer. Lacey (14) in 2002, and Matthew (37) in 2011. Dick’s parents both passed away and our other two children were living independently. We decided to relocate from Pennsylvania to Virginia in 2011 and to purchase our new home with cash from the equity of the house we lived in for twenty years. We continue to raise funds for our ministry goals, we continue to minister in the area where we live, and we continue to invest in Russia/Siberia and other places and people in the world as God gives us opportunity. We both now receive Social Security benefits and combined with our ministry income have the opportunity to feel the freedom to invest in ministries, help meet needs of others (when possible), take some exciting vacations and trips that are ministry inspired, and enjoy to the fullest, all the years in this season of life that the Lord gives us.
Today, in 2016 (thirty years married) and looking back, we are amazed and in awe at all that the Lord has done in us and through us over these years. Significant foundational beliefs and convictions on our journey have helped us navigate changes, crisis, events, and circumstances in our lives. These beliefs have helped to guide our lives and to make some purposeful decisions about our marriage roles, our lifestyle, and our goals both financially and in ministry.
Our recommendation to young couples is to adjust your lifestyle to match your beliefs and your convictions, and to live them out under the Lord’s direction. Get started on your savings plan early, get control of your spending, and make your investment decisions with good Godly counsel.
I spent my professional life as a mathematician and professor of mathematics. That was a subject I greatly loved, but one that sometimes had a tenuous connection with real world issues. When I retired in 2003 everything changed and real-world issues became dominant. Within a few months my wife was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer. Luckily we began her treatment in one of the remarkable NIH designated comprehensive Cancer centers available in this country, this one Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia.
Although her original prognosis was grim, her treatment was replete with minor miracles of science and technology – two important new drugs coming off clinical trials just in time to help, advances in radiation treatments brought about with the help of resident physicists, immediate changes in treatment protocols brought about when studies were released from other comprehensive cancer centers. Although the cancer finally won, she had an unexpected beneficial seven years to enjoy life and get to know grandchildren. In the many hundreds of hours I spent with her observing her treatments, I came to understand the enormous complexities, variations, and difficulties involved in cancer treatment, and the skill, brilliance, and dedication of the many and varied professionals fighting against it.
As you might imagine, her death was a watershed event in my life and the lives of my children. My sons are now researchers in biochemistry. My sons and one of my daughters-in-law are working on cutting edge protocols to fight cancer. I was not equipped to do that, but I made up my mind to devote my resources and energies, in every way that I could, to helping fight cancer. I’ve helped to develop computer software to analyze data in novel ways. My hope is that it can be of help in processing data associated with cancer research. I use all the financial resources at my disposal to help the comprehensive cancer centers in their incredible fight against cancer. My greater purpose is to continue trying to develop financial resources and to use those and my time in any way that I can to fight the incredibly complex, diverse, and disastrous set of diseases that we call cancer.
Bob & Kris McCarty
As a two-income couple with four kids and having two great jobs (one an engineer in sales and leadership roles, the other in finance), we had been regularly contributing to our 401(K)’s and an investment account. We knew that the cost of four college degrees was looming in the not too distant future, and that we’d likely have some weddings to pay for as well. We also were looking forward to a retirement at some point with lots of travel and helping fund some education expenses for (hopefully) some grandchildren. Not a bad ‘greater purpose’. We were managing our portfolio ourselves using a combination of Buy & Hold and Dividend investment approaches. We had enjoyed some decent success, investing in the bluest of blue chips and had grown our portfolio. We were feeling pretty good about our future but were wondering if we were doing enough.
The primary purpose of our portfolio up to this point has been to provide for the education of our children and set up a future retirement ‘nest egg’ that would allow us to ‘sit back and relax and enjoy what life had to offer’. With that original purpose beginning to come to fruition, we’ve been thinking about making more of a difference besides just being able to reap the benefits from a lifetime of work. As a professional woman, Kris has faced some challenges throughout her career, but has also benefitted from help from others – men and women – providing support and guidance through many career choices and challenges. Bob has always had a mindset of teaching and mentoring young people in financial literacy. Now as we near the traditional, ‘magic’ retirement age, we’re thinking more broadly and more boldly. We’re envisioning a new and improved ‘greater purpose’ of starting and leading a non-profit organization that will focus on providing help to young women starting out and growing their careers while also providing guidance and education around making good financial choices.
Philip S Hill
Many years ago, the commencement speaker at my daughter’s high school graduation said something that stuck with me. She counseled the audience of young , ambitious graduating seniors to take time along their career paths to enjoy family and to pursue interests that are personally fulfilling because “no one on his death bed has ever regretted not spending more time at the office. “ I had always wanted to develop my talent as an artist. But at the time, listening to the inspired advice of the commencement speaker, I was a financially-driven workaholic riding high in New York City with a freight train of living expenses and children going to college and graduate school. Unlike the folksy poet (Robert Frost) at a fork in the woods, I had taken the road more traveled to go work in an office and left the road less traveled to others more daring.
A few years back, my business partner of 30 years died of cancer at age 60. Remembering the commencement speaker’s advice of long ago about the office and death beds, I thought about taking the road less traveled to see if I could become a full-time artist. Since I wasn’t a folksy poet, the less traveled road looked pretty scary and would require ample finances and careful planning. And although our children were grown and independent, I had responsibilities with a wife and business. I started trying to figure out the financial feasibility of taking the road to becoming an artist, which in most cases pays less than working at McDonald’s. Fortunately, I had managed to build savings and had a valuable co-op apartment in Manhattan. About this time, I ran into a classmate at my college reunion who was a professional artist in West Chester, PA, and he suggested a visit. With its art center, restaurants, cultural events at West Chester University, moderate cost of living, and surrounded by beautiful countryside, the town offered an appealing alternative to New York City. So guessing that our financial plans would work out, we put our apartment up for sale and spent weekends running off to West Chester to look at houses. Eventually our apartment sold, and ultimately we decided to build our new home in West Chester which, of course, included an art studio. With my supportive but apprehensive wife Fran, we left New York City and headed down the road less traveled.
If you have ever driven the less traveled roads in Pennsylvania, you’d agree they are windy and sometimes you wonder where you’ll end up. We had come pretty far, but still had the uncertainty of reaching our goal. I still had to deal with winding down my business, and we were confronted with a huge income tax from the sale of our Manhattan apartment. Then there was the big question of how to invest to ensure an adequate income and preserve our savings, which now included a wheelbarrow full of cash from the apartment sale.
On occasion, Fran and I had attended promotional dinners in New York hosted by big name investment advisors looking to entice us to turn over our savings for them to manage. We listened to a great many sales pitches, but for us it was always just an entertaining, expense-free night out at a fancy restaurant. So we accepted the promotional dinner invitation from Warren Financial, curious if they could help us reach our goal. We liked their presentation. At follow-up meetings, we reviewed our finances and objectives, and formulated an investment plan. They also recommended a mortgage broker so we could finance our income tax burden from the apartment sale without diminishing our savings, and with a plan to pay off the mortgage in seven years. Now that our finances were in order, I was able to let go of my business, and finally pursue a greater purpose as an artist.
I never thought I’d become a writer. My background is in speech pathology and I was a successful clinician, teacher, and consultant for many years. However, when I retired, I sought a new greater purpose. I refused to accept that gray hair, and a few wrinkles, somehow reduced my societal net worth. Although I have reached a point in life when my age exceeds the speed limit, I am not ready to step aside. Surely, I still had something to contribute. With my newly found free time, I enrolled in a writing class. With encouragement from my instructor, I turned my essays into a blog and eventually a book. I now have a forum to share my humorous observations on life, while hopefully inspiring others to find purpose in their retirement years.
It is not often that a person really gets the chance to develop a passion with the idea of enriching others and call it work. For me this all came about in the 1990s when I was in the picture framing business. I was introduced to some very high end art by a client that was an art dealer/collector. He offered me the opportunity to begin offering fine art to collectors on Hilton Head. Shortly thereafter, Jack Morris, an experienced museum director/curator turned art dealer, and I decided to start our own art gallery.
25 years later, Jack has since retired from the day to day operations of running the gallery and moved over to the auction side of our business. My wife Lyn and I take care of our gallery, The Red Piano, and I continue to work with Jack with the auctions. The Red Piano has the great fortune to represent American painters and sculptors such as Andrew Wyeth, Glenna Goodacre, Stephen Scott Young, Dan McCaw and some talented local artists as well.
Along the way, I have had the opportunity to share my love for American art with countless clients and really help them to cultivate their own passions. Which in turn has led to my discovery of my Greater Purpose! When advising clients I always say the first rule for buying art is to buy what you love. If the piece you discover speaks to you, gives you pleasure, then that piece is what you should buy! This same principle has shown me how I can turn a real passion into a successful business.
After retiring from 32 very satisfying years in the U.S. Army, I reflected on guidance programs for tomorrow’s leaders. My alma mater, West Chester University, had no ROTC program at all and the administration opposed when I proposed it. After receiving letters of support from alumni for a year and sending them to the local newspaper and Trustees, coupled with my refusal for a sizeable donation to the University, I obtained a tentative approval for the program. The ROTC program started with 6 cadets in 2009 and has grown to over 48 cadets this year. During those 7 years, I beat the bushes for scholarship funds from both private and public sources to support those cadets. I consider this program my main legacy to my school—greater then my donation of the Richard D. Merion Science Center building. It is urgent that we, seniors, provide guidance and support to our youth if we are to continue to be the greatest nation that our founders have given to us. Continue the movement! Richard D. Merion, USA (retired).
Since the age of ten, I have had an unmistakable feeling that I was supposed to do something that would make a difference and have a positive impact. For the last fifty-five years, my journey has always had an eye and awareness of this “something.” Initially, it seemed that whatever it was must be in the future and patience was needed but it would be clearly recognizable when it surfaced. This remained in my consciousness. The decisions made along the way would consider whether my choice would take me toward this “something” that I was supposed to do. In my forties, it was frustrating because it seemed as though it must be right around the corner, but it never made itself clear. In my fifties, my concern for possibly having missed it began to surface, but my eyes were trained on anything that might be the key. In my late fifties and early sixties, my conclusion has been that somehow I missed it. But how? It has been so clear that this was supposed to happen. I have been consciously looking for this something for decades.
During my career in financial services and in consulting I have managed more than a thousand people in numerous roles. During that time, I managed, mentored and counselled people ranging from new hires, long term employees, management, systems professionals, some of my bosses and a couple business owners. My advice has been doled out and has been solicited by friends, by acquaintances, and by people with whom I have worked. More than a dozen told me I should write a book. Perhaps this is what I was supposed to do, and it simply took me fifty-five years to learn what was needed and how to convey it.
For years I wrote down a topic on a slip of paper and put it in a file in my briefcase. Some slips of paper were in there for decades and as other thoughts (topics) were identified they were added over time. They are the titles of the chapters in the book. Surprisingly, some people told me I should write a book about the various philosophies (topics on the slips of paper) I had shared with them. This little bit of encouragement kept me adding topics in my briefcase. I retired and had this file of topics. —Write a book? Who me? BUT, a boyhood and lifelong friend (Jim McCormick) told me to just pick a topic and start writing — stream of thought. Don’t craft every word—just start. Just that little bit of encouragement pushed me over the edge. Such a small action on his part gave me the oomph that I needed. He defined a battle I could easily win. I didn’t need to write a whole book. I just needed to write what came to me about a topic I had thought about for years. I did what he said. One by one, the topics were covered. This is a good example of how sometimes just a few words of encouragement can make a tremendous difference. He said just what I needed to hear. Without his comment, there might still be scraps of paper or items on a list waiting for me to do something. But his few words turned my thoughts into a book. Thanks, Jim. I feel that I am a better person because of having Jim as a friend. While each of the life and work strategies is something that is written about separately, they do combine into a fabric that is interwoven and supports each other. Everyone has thoughts and ideas and strategies. The purpose for writing is to share mine because I have seen some help others who needed them at a particular time in their life. These strategies/tools would have helped me if someone had conveyed them to me earlier in my life and career. I hope some may help you or someone you know.
The book is available through Tate Publishing.
Gretchen & John Ellixson
We are still enjoying our wonderful home in Fenwick Island, DE that we were able to get by selling the Colt stock we had along with Lucent stock. My husband called our house our “Colt House” and I called it my “Sonshine House” because I know God made a way for us to be blessed so that we could be a blessing to others.
During these many years at our beach home, we have watched our youngest grandchild at two years old grow up to be a lovely young 20 year-old along with the eight other grandchildren. Now we are into four great-grand children, all enjoying the fruits of our investing.