The unretired return to work
Seniors find rewards in working, volunteering


Dec. 5, 2015


Wendy Anderson arranges containers of popcorn at Treat Street in Brookfield. The retired teacher helped her daughter launch the popcorn store. “Is retirement staying home all day and every day? Never in my life will that be retirement. I will always be helping others,” she said.
Charles Auer/Freeman Staff

PEWAUKEE —The idea that retirement is for spending your days at home reading, gardening and baking is an out-of-date concept for many of today’s retirees, who prefer to use their time to give back to the community by volunteering or working part time and sharing their years of accumulated knowledge with the younger members of the workforce.

Nancy Waters, executive director of the Pewaukee Chamber of Commerce, refers to this group of people as the “unretired.”

“They need a sense of purpose and want to give back,” she said.

Some of the ways Waters has witnessed the “unretired” contribute is by starting a business or mentoring another small business owner. She said it’s also beneficial when a retired person returns to the workforce, especially because many companies struggle to find a competent workforce with a strong work ethic.

The next phase

Rick Appleby retired twice before finding the role that has been the most fulfilling of his life — as a member of the local Action-COACH team. He started out working with Jim and Tom Palzewicz of Action-COACH in Elm Grove. He has since helped to start a Pewaukee branch and is in the process of becoming a partner.

As a certified business coach, Appleby can pass along the knowledge he gained as an executive for Compaq and Dedicated Computing. He also started his own hunting, tailgating and camping equipment business and launched a consulting business.

After leaving his position as chief operating officer at Dedicated Computing and retiring for the second time, Appleby said he golfed frequently, but spent a lot of time at home alone because his wife, who is executive director and CEO of the Menomonee Falls Ambulatory Surgical Center, enjoys her job so much that she doesn’t envision retiring soon.

“Every morning I got dressed just like I was going to the office,” Appleby said.

He had been an Active-COACH client while at Dedicated Computing so he reached out to Tom Palzewicz about business opportunities. After exploring different ideas, Appleby determined that being a business coach would be the next step for him.

“There is so much opportunity in the state of Wisconsin. There are so many businesses that need help,” he said. ActionCOACH Elm Grove was recognized as the global firm of the year, he said.

“I actually have more fun doing this than anything I’ve ever done,” Appleby said. “It is by far the most fulfilling thing I’ve ever done.”

A walk down Treat Street

Opening a popcorn store wasn’t on Wendy Anderson’s bucket list, but when her daughter, Beth Chiaverotti, expressed an interest in starting a business due to the poor job market, Anderson recognized how it would provide a good education and experience for her and would allow her to “venture out and prosper on her own. And then I can show others how to prosper.”

Before joining Chiaverotti in launching Treat Street, Anderson taught economic and marketing courses at the college level, working about three days per week.

Started in May 2012, Anderson said, she thought it would be easier to launch and run Treat Street than it has been. Now she works more than double-and-a-half the hours she did while teaching and a five-day work week is a thing of the past.

But because of the lessons she has learned, Anderson said she feels compelled to share her knowledge with others.

“I think one of the things I enjoy about being in business is sharing with other businesses,” she said. “I see more what does succeed and what doesn’t succeed and how much you should take on and shouldn’t.”

Anderson doesn’t picture retiring anytime soon.

“Is retirement staying home all day and every day? Never in my life will that be retirement. I will always be helping others,” Anderson said, whether that’s helping Chiaverotti and her son, Paul Anderson, with the popcorn business in Brookfield, or volunteering.

Expanding a social circle

Philip Lamarre decided to return to the workforce after moving back to the Pewaukee area from Europe to be closer to his children and grandchildren. When he returned, Lamarre wanted to make new friends, so first he took a trip to China with the Pewaukee Chamber of Commerce and then began to volunteer for chamber events, such as organizing the weekly summer farmers market.

“I feel that it’s keeping me busier,” he said. “I know more about what’s going on in the community.”

He has also picked up a part-time seasonal job at Kohl’s to get out of the house. Lamarre’s career was in construction equipment sales, but he doesn’t want to do that again or work full time. Like Anderson and Appleby, Lamarre hasn’t returned to work for the money.

Jim Flaherty, communications director for AARP Wisconsin, said there are retirees who must return to the workforce to earn income or to have health insurance until they reach Medicare age.

Lamarre also appreciates learning about people’s businesses and contributing to the business community.

If he wasn’t working part time, Lamarre said, he would donate more of his time to church functions or other organizations helping people.

No plans to retire completely

Being “unretired” is better for a person’s health than sitting at home, Lamarre has found.

Appleby said he has learned there are two camps of people: those who want to have a quiet retirement at home and those who want to stay active in the community. He, of course, is the latter.

“I think there is another portion of us who have lived a productive life and want to continue,” he said.

While Appleby spends many hours each week helping clients, he said being a business coach also gives him the flexibility to schedule vacations and time with family.

It comes down, he said, to “what is it you ultimately want to achieve.”

Lamarre said he likes to share his life lessons with others.

“It’s good to go back and help people after working. Business has been good to me so I want to help people with their businesses,” he said.


Five part-time jobs to consider for post-retirement:

* Librarian assistant/aide. Duties might include fielding questions, shelving books, helping patrons check out, tracking overdue material and sending notices, as well as cataloging and keeping an eye out for lost and damaged items.

* Bookkeeper. You might take care of purchasing office supplies and processing payroll, as well as establishing and maintaining inventory database systems, tracking accounts receivable and accounts payable and producing financial reports.

* Personal and home care aide. You typically help elderly, ill or disabled people with everyday activities ranging from bathing and getting dressed to running errands. Other duties might include light housekeeping, companionship, grocery shopping, meal preparation and medication monitoring.

* Handyman. There are more structured opportunities in this arena with building owners who hire part-time workers to perform basic maintenance. This is one job, even on a part-time basis, that requires a certain level of fitness and stamina.

* Medical assistant. Administrative tasks in doctors’ offices are usually the bulk of the workload.