Jean - I was born in Memphis and went to school at St. Agnes, Berry College, then graduated from the University of Memphis. I've worn several hats as mother, housewife, and career person. My education is in business, so I worked at First Tennessee, then stayed home with three wonderful children. Later I worked for MIFA, and that was wonderful, too. I was a Vista Volunteer for four years, then was MIFA's financial and computer person for fifteen years. My husband Joe and I retired on the same day, and have loved it ever since.
About a year before we retired, I saw an ad in a senior newspaper for the LIFE class, and the word "leadership" intrigued me. I thought I would try it, the Director at MIFA said go for it, so I did. I met Bridget and many other people, and found it all to be very inspiring. The whole thrust of the class was to speak up, stand up for yourself and enjoy life. I really believe in the LIFE program. After we retired last year, Joe took the class and I took it again with him. It has made me very aware of how fortunate Joe and I are.
I'm always amazed at how timid people are, how unsure of themselves, not knowing how too speak up, not knowing how to even ask a question. If I can help them just do that, I'll be there.
Joe - I was educated in the public schools, then met Jean at the University of Memphis. After graduation I went into the Navy for two years, then Jean and Igot married. I studied architecture at Georgia Tech, then spent a number of years as an architect with George Awsumb in Memphis. I worked for the city for six years, then we both retired from everything, and have been bumming around ever since.
Jean and Joe - One of our children has Downs Syndrome, and this has taught us both lots about empathy. He's 27 now, a graduate of the public school system, and works at Seessel's Grocery. Having him has removed prejudice from our house, if there ever was any, and made us pretty good at listening. If we weren't patient before we are now. Those pieces of life have really shaped us.
We both think this program is working, but even though it's free, it has to be marketed. Word-of-mouth and follow-up by the volunteers are important to the sucess of this program. We can't let seniors with needs be out there with unanswered qustions.