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ReServe the Community

Use your skills to help local groups

Rod Carter, left, has been mentoring students like Delante Desouza for more than 20 years, through the Maryland ReServe program.

Photo by Melissa Golden

Rod Carter, left, of Baltimore, has been mentoring students like Delante Desouza for more than 20 years. He plans to continue giving back to the community through the Maryland ReServe program.

Rod Carter has been helping students further their education for more than 20 years. One student he mentored was chosen as a Rhodes scholar.

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Carter, 58, of Baltimore, plans to continue offering his services through the Maryland affiliate of ReServe Inc. The organization matches community-minded professionals 55 years and older with community-oriented public and nonprofit agencies that could use their assistance and expertise.

For example, a community organization that needs an accountant but doesn't have the funds to hire a full-time person might use the services of a retired accountant through the program, said Branden A. McLeod, the ReServe Maryland program director.

Since 2006, ReServe — which began in New York — has matched about 1,000 people with more than 350 organizations and provided more than 714,000 hours of service, said Jesse Dean, ReServe national marketing and communications director.

The average age of ReServists, as they are called, is about 65. Most work for community organizations between 10 and 20 hours per week on long- and short-term projects. ReServists are paid $10 an hour by the community organization.

In Maryland, the ReServe program is coordinated by the University of Maryland School of Social Work in Baltimore.

Jen Holz, AARP Maryland associate state director for outreach, said AARP supports ReServe Maryland and plans to publicize its mission as part of its efforts to assist retirees or unemployed older people find service roles.

Where experience is appreciated

ReServe Maryland, which is just getting started, held organizational meetings in December and January that drew about 20 potential participants. McLeod said the number of ReServists serving at any one time will depend on how many sign up and the demand for their services.

Carter, a former program coordinator for eight years at the Maryland Mentoring Partnership, is a volunteer vice president and co-chairman of the scholarship committee of the nonprofit group Black Professional Men Inc., based in Baltimore. At a ReServe Maryland organizational meeting, he said ReServe "creates an environment where my passion, skills and experience are appreciated."

McLeod said two projects are gearing up in partnership with AmeriCorps:

  • Consumer Credit Counseling Services of Maryland and Delaware Inc. wants ReServists to use their credit, debt and money management expertise to assist their clients to reduce debt and increase savings.

  • ReServists will assist high school students in the Baltimore area to prepare college and financial aid applications and essays, as well as job applications.

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The opportunity to work with ReServe attracted Jenny Beatty, 58, a former registered nurse from Baltimore County. Since 1982, Beatty has provided project start-up, management and evaluation consulting to nonprofits and research and education groups. She later held an AmeriCorps-funded full-time position as senior mentor for FIRST, a global robotics competition for students 6 to 18 years old.

"I love project start-ups and meeting new people, and [being a ReServist] may be a great part-time position," Beatty said.

Another person drawn to ReServe is Almeta Sly-Thompson, 62, of Baltimore. A part-time university writing teacher and former administrator, Sly-Thompson said ReServe Maryland — unlike some other prospective employers — has no problem with her age.

ReServe, she said, wants me "to educate people about something they need to know: personal finance."

There are ReServe affiliates in Miami, New York City, Westchester County, N.Y., and Newark, N.J. The group plans to expand into Milwaukee soon.

Also of interest: 50 jobs for a second career. >>

Frank McCoy is a writer in Catonsville, Md.

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