After a career as a customs broker, Jim Reynolds retired. But he wanted to give back through a nonprofit, so he volunteered as a court-appointed special advocate, or CASA, for foster children.
Reynolds decided to go the extra mile by raising money this summer for CASA in Delaware County, which recruits and trains special advocates to work to ensure that abused and neglected children in Delaware and Chester Counties' Dependency Court systems have safe, permanent, and nurturing homes. The West Chester resident tuned up his beloved Triumph motorcycle and hit the road, covering more than 5,400 miles.
He departed Aug. 18, driving 350 miles the first day to Waynesboro, Va., via Skyline Drive (all the while posting pictures to Facebook). Then it was on to Bulls Gap, Tenn., via the Blue Ridge Parkway, then Nashville for the solar eclipse, then Memphis via the Natchez Trace Parkway. Then Arkansas, Oklahoma, and finally Colorado on Aug. 26 for a weeklong visit with his grandchildren. Reynolds turned around, riding through Nebraska, Iowa, and Minnesota, then crossed the border into Ontario, Canada, on Sept. 3. He crossed back into New York state and returned home on a rainy Sept. 6.
Why do even more for his chosen cause? To satisfy his desire to give back and to increase his self-worth, Reynolds said: "It's a very worthwhile way to spend your spare time in retirement." He raised just under $1,000 for CASA in Delco, and he tells friends to donate directly to the nonprofit via the website. (To volunteer there, call 610-565-2208.)
Anthony Fedele, a retired Army veteran, was chatting with a neighbor and mentioned that he was "still having a really hard time getting outside and doing things. He told me about a nonprofit here in Philly, the Mission Continues, that works with veterans. I looked it up and then signed up for what they call the local platoon. However, initially I never did anything with them because of my fear of being around other veterans."
Then in fall 2016, the nonprofit Mission Continues hosted its first "Mass Deployment," picking about 70 veterans to be flown to Detroit.
"We did a full week's worth of volunteering in some of the Detroit neighborhoods. I was selected to go and had my first experience there. The impact it had on me was life-changing and cracked me wide open," Fedele recalled. "Shortly after that experience, I found myself in a conversation about taking over and leading" what's known as the First Platoon of Mission Continues in Philadelphia.
Why become involved in retirement? "The Mission Continues brings veterans together and we are reminded of what we are capable of, and then they empower us to utilize our special skill sets in our own communities and become the leaders our society needs us to be," he said.
Sharon McGinley started her own nonprofit in retirement, a "clubhouse" for teens who age out of foster care. Locating it in her own home 11 years ago, she called it Eddie's House, after a foster kid she'd befriended who died of kidney disease.
"Usually, once they age out of the system, foster kids are no longer eligible for benefits, so their foster families kick them out with a garbage bag full of their stuff. And boom! They're homeless," McGinley, 57, said.
A self-described "retired Main Line housewife," she suffered a broken back more than a decade ago and was pronounced clinically dead in the hospital.
"While I was out of my body, the message was so clear and upsetting. I realized the only thing we leave behind is the love we give. My fear had kept me from doing that."
McGinley left the social circuit behind and joined the board of Philadelphia's Support Center for Child Advocates. There, she met a group of 18-year-olds who had aged out of the system.
"These kids were laughing and joking about living with roaches, or with foster parents who chained them to radiators," she recalled.
McGinley will host a fund-raiser from 1 to 4 p.m. Oct. 15, at St. Clement's Church, 2013 Appletree St., between Cherry and Arch Streets. Suggested donation is $100, and includes a meet-and-greet with actress Susan St. James.