MARCH, 2010 -
Barbara and Ira Smith, HGRM’s founders inspire book on accomplishments in later life.
Barbara and Ira Smith, HGRM’s founders are featured in What Should I Do with the Rest of My Life? True Stories of Finding Success, Passion, and New Meaning in the Second Half of Life by Bruce Frankel, a collection of portraits of later bloomers who have taken on new challenges after age 60 and have succeeded beyond their expectations.
How did you decide to include the Smiths in your book?
I heard about the Smiths from Nancy Emerson Lombardo, a professor at the BU School of Medicine who lives in Acton. Her description of how the Smiths began HGRM in their garage to help a refugee from El Salvador caught my interest, but I was not immediately convinced that they were the right fit for the book. I feared they would be too parochial, that is, too local and running a religiously-oriented ministry. But once I spoke with Barbara and Ira on the phone and heard how HGRM evolved into a calling, serving hundreds of agencies in the surrounding area and Boston, and how their enduring effort had attracted a community of volunteers who had helped make HGRM a self-sustaining non-profit, my doubts began to vanish. When I met them in person, I witnessed the humanity, vitality, organization, and humor with which they preside over HGRM, and decided they needed to be in the book.
Who else is included in the book and what do you hope readers get out of the narratives?
There are portraits of a diverse group of people who found and followed their passions and achieved significantly after 60. They include a Tennessee housewife who discovered that she was a natural-born runner and went on to set dozens of records and establish herself as one of the nation's best women runners over 60; a former U.S. intelligence officer who, without prior training, became a principal dancer of a major intergenerational dance company; and a writer who, at 99, has become an award-winning author of three books in four years.
I did not set out to prove any theories or to write a prescriptive book. I had read of discoveries in brain science that suggested we are capable of learning new and difficult things far later in our lives than once imagined. I hope readers are inspired to look beyond present adversity and old beliefs about themselves and the limitations of age, and choose to follow their own curiosities and passions, set challenging goals and engage in the daily discipline required to realize them. I hope, too, that readers will be inspired to contribute to their communities or the world and will come to see that age, of itself, does not limit or enable us.
What’s your next project?
I’m working on a book on the brain and dance. To challenge myself, I'm learning to tango.
Bruce’s book is available at Amazon. His website is: www.brucefrankel.net