Still Getting the Job Done

Survey: Many Choosing Part-Time Work in Post Retirement Years

Published in Woonsocket Call on September 13, 2015

In 2010, when Michael Cassidy retired as Pawtucket’s Director of Planning & Redevelopment after working for the municipality for 40 years he had no intentions of easing himself into full-time employment.   While he was retiring to “retirement” he had every intention to remain active for the rest of his life.

Cassidy instinctively knew that retirees, who stay active by playing sports, traveling or even volunteering, always seemed to live longer.  His father was a good example of this belief, living to the ripe old age of 92.  Before the nagenarian died he had worked part-time as realtor, also playing in an Golden Oldies softball league and umpiring three times a week.

Part-Time Job Gives Many Bennies

With Cassidy planning to retire at age 62 from the City of Pawtucket, he went to see Paw Sox President, Mike Tamburro asking him, “Do you have a job for an old retired guy.”  Ultimately, he took the position as usher at the Pawtucket-based McCoy Stadium.  He says, “The job keeps me on my feet four to five hours.” Each game he puts around 15,000 steps on his pedometer.  But the job also allows him to interact with old friends and even gives him an opportunity to make new ones, too. .

There are additional benefits of having a part-time job, besides just getting physical active and having an opportunity to mingle with people, says Cassidy.   He now has more time to spend with his six grandchildren, travel with Jane-Ellen, his wife of 45 years, and to just putter around his home.  Now he even serves as Chair of the Blackstone Valley National Heritage Corridor Organization, he says.

Like Cassidy, according to a new AARP released last Tuesday, older Americans are not choosing to retire, many are now seeking part-time jobs in their post retirement years, not full-time ones.

Work the New Retirement Activity

According to the findings in the 26 page AARP report, “AARP Post Retirement Career Study,” work seems to be the “new retirement activity.” While many Americans state that they plan to retire between ages 65 and 70 (45%), the data indicates that the typical retirement may have changed.  Thirty seven percent say they plan to work for pay in post retirement.  Of these respondents, 73 percent desire a part-time job and almost half are looking to work in a new field (44%).  Twenty three percent will stay in the same field, and 33% are undecided.

The researchers say that connecting with co-workers, interesting and challenging work, and the desire for a work-life balance are all stated as top reasons why work is enjoyable. Some are seeking to pursue their dream job or dream field in this next stage of life.  Sports, hospitality,  and education fields are frequently cited.  Most are hoping that their new dream jobs will be part-time, flexible with work from home options, and allow time for travel and fun.

The findings also indicate the importance of job training for those who plan to work during their retirement years.  Among those who plan to enter a new field, training is seen as even more crucial to succeeding on the job (46% vs. 36% among those staying in the same field).

Meanwhile, when asked about what they enjoyed most about their current career, most mentioned income, benefits, and the schedule/work-life balance.

According to the AARP survey, regardless of the field, respondents are hoping to work part-time (73%), with over half expecting to work for someone else (57%) vs. being a contractor (21%) or starting their own business (19%).

Personal contacts and job listings are the primary avenues respondents say they use to find post-retirement work (49% and  43%, respectively). Professional networking is also a popular way people plan to find work, note the researchers.

When questioned about their dream job, many respondents talk about a profession, for others it may be a particular type of working lifestyle.  Jobs in the sports, creative, hospitality and education fields are mentioned frequently by the respondents while those looking for lifestyle benefits seek flexibility, lucrative, opportunities to travel, and employment with a charitable aspect to it.

.AARP’s efforts to look into how people spend time in their retirement years is the first  survey of this kind and there are no comparative stats from previous years, says Kim Adler, AARP’s Work and Jobs Lead.

The findings suggest that there are major implications for employers, adds Adler.  “Americans are living longer, healthier lives and we will see a continuation of the long term trend of working into retirement years. Nearly 19 percent of 65 and older workers are in the workplace and the percentages – as well as the actual numbers – are likely to continue to rise. This will give employers the opportunity to hire and retain experienced workers who look forward to the opportunities and challenges in the workplace,” she says.

According to Adler, “there are shortages of skilled workers in certain industries and many employers report difficulty filling jobs. For these jobs – and all others – employers and employees benefit from an intergenerational workforce that encourages mentoring and knowledge sharing.”

Great Wealth of Experience

“The survey gives us a better picture of what retirement looks like today and, likely, well into the future,” said AARP Rhode Island State Director Kathleen Connell. “But it also is a conversation starter about the value of older workers. Older Rhode Island workers represent a great wealth of experience and accomplishment at every level of the workforce.

“Employers should embrace the willingness of people to work part-time after 65 or 70 as a “golden’ opportunity, if you will. And this is especially true of startups, where wisdom is a critical success factor. Growing the Rhode Island economy might depend on synergies of young innovators guided by experienced leaders and managers.

Adds Charlie Fogarty, Director of the Rhode Island Division of Elderly Affairs, “Many older adults look at retirement as a transition period, and not a defined point in time in their lives.” He notes, “This population has a wealth of experience and knowledge that can be shared while working part-time, making for a more productive and richer work experience for all employees.”

“Our new research shows a fluid workplace, with many experienced workers looking for flexible part-time work in interesting and challenging positions to continue their careers,” said Kim Adler, AARP’s Work and Jobs lead.  “The new website [AARP.org/Work] will help experienced workers control their careers and stay connected, competitive and current in the workplace,” Adler added.

This AARP survey, overseen by Gretchen Anderson, AARP Research, was fielded online from July 27 to August 3, 2015 and conducted among adults age 50-64 who are currently employed full time.  A total of number of 4,975 surveys were completed. The final data has been weighted to U.S. Census for analysis.

Throughout the Years at the Pawtucket Arts Festival

Published in Pawtucket Times, September 5, 2015

It was over 16 years ago when Kristine Kilmartin married Pawtucket Rep. Peter Kilmartin. The Smithfield native had lived in the city for a few months and. while she was driving through Slater Memorial Park in January 1999 with her new husband, she asked, “Why doesn’t the City take more advantage of its green space?” She wondered why Pawtucket couldn’t plan an event like the Scituate Arts Festival in its vast 209-acre park.

Ultimately, the Kilmartins turned to Mayor James E. Doyle with the idea of creating an arts festival. The green light was given and the work began. After a month of meetings, discussion and planning, the City’s 18-person committee kicked off its first arts festival in June 1999.

“It is hard to believe that 16 Pawtucket Arts Festivals have gone by so fast,” says Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin, who has served as an honorary co-chair with his wife, Kristine, since its inception. “When we began in 1999, there was a lot of uncertainty about the event’s success and longevity, as with any new venture,” recalls the lawyer and former Pawtucket police officer. My how the Pawtucket Arts Festival has grown.

Kilmartin remembers the Opening Gala was scarcely attended. However, the organizers were not discouraged, he says. “Everyone involved felt we had a good product, and as long as we stuck with it we would be successful,” he added.

Over the years city officials and many dedicated volunteers continued to work hard, he notes, stressing that it “now feels like the Pawtucket Arts Festival is a permanent part of our community.”

With the diversity and quality of programming over 16 years, Kilmartin finds it hard to single out one particular favorite event. But, when pressed by this tenacious columnist, he admits, “We enjoyed the Philharmonic in the Park and the Dragon Boat races,” noting that these two signature events provide “great family fun.”

Looking forward, the fifty-two-year-old lifelong Pawtucket resident believes that new forms of community outreach must happen to attract more people to the festival, this being vital for the Arts Festival’s continued growth and future success. The Attorney General also calls for the broadening of the artistic diversity and ethnicity of its programming, keeping the month-long Arts Festival “fresh.”

A Look Back: Just a Small Sampling

Since 1999, Pawtucket’s Arts Festival organizers have created a citywide showcase of visual and performing arts, interactive workshops, music, theatre and dance performances. Where else could you enjoy a wide variety of music, from blues, jazz, Zydeco, classical, folk, and even pops? Over the years 50,000 people came to listen to the Rhode Island Philharmonic Pop Orchestra, the event concluding with a dazzling firework show over the park’s pond.

Over 15 years, what a listing of musical groups that have played the Pawtucket Arts Festival. World famous Jazz artists Dave McKenna, Scott Hamilton and Gray Sargent, Grammy-nominated Duke Robillard, the internationally acclaimed “Ambassador to the Blues,” and Consuelo and Chuck Sherba’s Aurea, a performance ensemble thrilled the audiences. Many came to dance to the tunes of French-Canadian Conrad Depot, Celtic group Pendragon, folk musicians Atwater & Donnelly and Plain Folk to name a few. Many of these groups appeared on the stages at Slater Mill’s Ethnic and Labor Festival and the Stone Soup Coffee House at Slater Memorial Park or at the folk group’s home venue at St. Paul’s Parish House.

Both young and old alike enjoyed watching the Big Nazo Puppets, clowns or listening to story tellers, including Mark Binder and Valerie Tutson. Parents and their children even packed Shea High School’s auditorium to watch the incredible Dan Butterworth’s Marionette show.

And where else could your children learn the art of making glass, raku pottery or carving stone and wood? Of course, at the City’s Arts Festival. Children workshops, led by Lee Segal, taught tile painting. Youngsters learned how to create sculptures out of junk pulled from the Blackstone River. Only in the City of the “Industrial Revolution” if you had attended one of our art festivals over the last 15 years.

Every year at the City’s Festival Pier thousands of spectators have lined up along the Seekonk River to watch the Dragon Boat races. Art lovers visited one-of-a kind exhibits in art galleries and artist studios throughout Pawtucket. Those attending the City’s Arts Festival watched performances by the Everett Dance Theatre, Fusionworks, Cadence Dance Project, and great plays at the Sandra Gamm Feinstein Theatre, Mixed Magic Theater and Community Player. Film buffs came to meet writers and filmmakers at the Pawtucket Film Festival, questioning these individuals about their film-making techniques.

For movie buffs, Pawtucket-based Mirror Image, has organized its Pawtucket Film Festival for over 15 years in the 100-seat theater in the City’s Visitor Center. Rhode Islander Michael Corrente was one of the more notable film makers who accepted an invitation to attend, and many others followed. The film organizers even brought the internationally-acclaimed Alloy Orchestra to perform a live, original score for Man With a Movie Camera at Tolman High School.

You were also able to watch classic films at other Arts Festival venues, too. One year dozens came to watch Cinema Paradiso (with English subtitles) by Giuseppe Tornatore, projected on the walls of a mill building on Exchange Street, with live music.

Hundreds also gathered at Slater Park to watch chain saw-toting environmental artist and sculptor Michael Higgins Billy Rebele create pieces of artwork on salvaged tree stumps.

While focusing on bringing artistic and musical events, festival organizers did not forget to bring public art into the City. In 15 years, six permanent sculptures were donated to the City of Pawtucket. An original oil painting of the Hope Webbing Mill in Pawtucket, painted by internationally-recognized Artist Gretchen Dow-Simpson, was purchased and donated to the City in 2004, and is now showcased in the Mayor’s Office.

Some Pawtucket Arts Festival Trivia…

As Kilmartin remembered, the first opening gala, held in the City library is 1999 attracted a small crowd, around 35 people. At the end of the evening each person was given Ronzio pizzas to take home. Last year we saw over 2,000 people gather at this long awaited opening event. Crowds at the Dragon Boat races have also held steady over the years, bringing thousands to the City’s Festival Pier. For over a decade, over 6,000 people have attended the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra Concert in Slater Memorial Park. The Pawtucket Teachers’ Alliance, with their very generous $15,000 donation continue to make this event happen.

For 15 years, Patricia Zacks, of the Providence-based Camera Werks and lifelong Pawtucket resident, has organized a photo contest at every arts festival, which includes participation from students from Pawtucket Public Schools, where winning photos are judged by some of the State’s top recognized photographers select their favorite photos that will appear in the City of Pawtucket’s Photo Calendar. Thousands of Pawtucket students also learned the art of photography from Zacks and over 180 scenes of Pawtucket have appeared in these calendars.

During these years, the Taiwan Economic and Cultural Office in Boston also sponsored the Chinese performances that were held throughout the day of the Dragon Boat races. Pawtucket’s annual race is now being promoted nationally by other Dragon Boat festivals. In its second year, in 2000, the Dragon Boat races second year, American Airlines donated 18 free round trip tickets to Taiwan to the winning boat, an estimated value of $60,000. This year the winning professional team will take home $10,000, while the local team winner will receive $5,000.

In the early years trolley tours led by Zacks of the Pawtucket Arts Collaborative and Len Lavoie, of RICIR, initially organized trips to mill buildings throughout the City. Because of these trolley tours, at least two couples have relocated to Pawtucket to live in mill lofts in the City’s historic downtown. The trolley tours, showcasing Pawtucket artist’s one-of-a-kind works, would later be replaced by XOS- Exchange Street Open Studios and Arts Market Place Pawtucket at the historic Pawtucket Armory.

In 2005, from an idea sparked by then program chair, Patricia Zacks and community activist and Stone Soup President, Richard Walton, led them to meet with Paw-Sox executives to ‘go big’ which set off a series of acts to perform at McCoy Stadium beginning in 2006. These artists included: Bob Dylan, (twice), John Mellencamp, Counting Crows, Drop Kick Murph’s; Kenny Loggins and the Boston Pops Orchestra; Further and Willie Nelson.

Since 1999 the steady growth of participating artists, corporate sponsors, volunteers and attendees indicate quality programming and a well-managed event that has become a permanent fixture in the Pawtucket community. Over 16 years, the Pawtucket Arts Festival has awakened the pride of Pawtucket’s residents and continues to stimulate the creative energies of its artist community, and have an economic impact on the City.

Chair John Baxter and his hard working Board of Directors (Rich Waltrous, Keith Fayan, Lori-Ann Gagne and this columunist), Arts Festival Manager Joe Giocastro, Artistic Director Mary Lee Partington, and Volunteer Coordinators Patricia Zacks and Paul Audette, prepare to unveil this year’s Arts Festival tonight at the Blackstone River Party/Taste of Pawtucket at 6 p.m. at Slater Mill. Let the show begin. See you there.

For a complete event listings go to http://www.pawtucketartsfestival.org, or 1-800-454-2882.

Herb Weiss, LRI ’12, is a Pawtucket-based writer who covers aging, medical and health care issues. He can be reached at hweissri@aol.com. He serves as the Pawtucket’s Economic & Cultural Affairs officer and sits of the Board of Directors of Pawtucket Arts Festival.