Marc Freedman

Marc Freedman is founder and president of Civic Ventures and the author of The Kindness of Strangers and Prime Time: How Baby Boomers Will Revolutionize Retirement and Transform America.

Recent Articles

The Aging Opportunity: America's Elderly as a Civic Resource

The aging of American society is almost always seen as a problem, but the elderly may be our only growing natural resource -- provided we create new ways to mobilize their civic energies.

M aine Medical Center is the state's best hospital, the place where the region's sickest children come for extended treatment even though their parents often have to return home, four or five hours away, to work and other children. The result is eight-year-olds left alone to battle cancer. This is where Aggie Bennett and Louise Casey, both nearly 80 years old, come in. Their role is to become surrogate family for children on the pediatrics ward. Four hours a day, five days a week, for car fare and a daily stipend of about nine dollars, these Foster Grandparent volunteers serve as a steady source of love and support. "I don't think I'd been here a year," Aggie recalls, "when the head of the unit asked me, 'How strong a person are you?' I said, 'Well, I've always prided myself that I was strong.' She said, 'We got a baby that is dying, and we promised that mother that her baby would not die in a crib. Do you think you could hold her?' Well, they put me in a room here, they kept checking...

Coming of Age

Addressing the National Industrial Conference Board in 1952, Mutual Life Insurance Company Vice President H.G. Kenagy urged America's major corporations to begin preparing employees for retirement at age 50. Representing a pension industry hungry to increase sales, Kenagy called upon the assembled companies to do a better job promoting the idea "that old age can be beautiful, and that the best of life is yet to come." At the time, prosperity and Social Security were making retirement, for the first time in American history, a mass phenomenon and not just a condition of the wealthy, the infirm, or those forced out of work and unable to secure new employment. Yet retirement was still a grim business- a "roleless role," to quote the leading academic gerontologist of the day. Walter Reuther was more blunt, describing this state as "too old to work, too young to die." The pension purveyors realized that it would be difficult to get people to spend money on retirement unless something more...