Editor's Notebook

Photography by Rebecca Baxter By Susan Burns March 1, 2011

Starting Over

Our cover storyabout “boomerpreneurs” highlights yet another way the huge cohort born between 1946 and 1964 is changing society. They are unlikely to retire when they hit 65, as their parents did—partly because they can’t afford to and partly because they’ve defined themselves by work ever since they became yuppies. But many won’t be staying in the jobs that defined their lives for decades. Instead, some boomers see this as a time to redefine themselves and start brand-new businesses.

A 2009 national study by the Kauffman Foundation found that boomers are the most entrepreneurial age group in America today. Many of us equate risk-taking with youth, but the boomers have something that compensates for youth’s propensity to throw caution to the wind: experience. That experience allows such boomers to launch their new companies with confidence. Read about six of them in our region and you’ll be convinced there’s plenty of life left after age 55.

Boomers aren’t the only group thinking about new beginnings. I recently attended the Suncoast Partnership to End Homelessness’s first community meeting on the “10-Year Plan to End Homelessness” at Church of the Redeemer in downtown Sarasota. Some 350 people from all walks of life filled the standing-room-only hall. When we broke into working groups, I headed for the economic development classroom. In addition to 20 or so business and civic types, half a dozen homeless men and women walked into the room.

Some of those homeless people looked crisp and professional, like they’d just left a 9-5 job. Others were clearly living on the edge, with dirty clothes, shaggy hair and smiles full of missing teeth. The common denominator for every one was a cry for employment. “Just give me a job,” one man pleaded.

They will be tough to employ. Many lack competitive skills, and some have criminal records and substance abuse problems in their pasts. How can they get employers to take a chance on them? Still, the people in that room believed they can make that happen. If you have an interest in helping the homeless find housing, healthcare, jobs—or to prevent homelessness in the first place—Suncoast Partnership’s next meeting will be on March 11, 2 p.m., Church of the Redeemer. All are welcome.

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