Enriching lives and growing, the NYC chapter of TTN offers a moveable feast of benefits to women over 50.
By Ellen Freed
In early 2017, Rachel K., 68, a recently retired, divorced psychotherapist moved from Delray Beach to Park Slope to be near her daughter and grandson. But with very few social contacts here, she felt lonely and isolated and missed the daily interactions her profession had provided. To make matters worse, Rachel had always liked exploring the world—a venture that she and her ex-husband had done every August for decades—and the prospect of planning a trip for herself only added to her sense of isolation. But a few weeks ago, she connected with a group of women who shared her passion for traveling and her mood began to lift.
Ann D. is a single career woman in her mid-fifties who lives in Tribeca. A year ago, she lost her position as a top executive in a financial services corporation—an event which was devastating for this highly motivated and successful professional. For the last three months, she has been working as a part-time consultant while deciding whether to retire early or seek another full-time job on Wall Street. Meanwhile, in order to keep her administrative and leadership skills sharp and oiled, Ann is using them to serve a non-profit organization.
Joyce W., 76, is a retired nurse and recent widow who lives in the Upper West Side. She has a large family—three children and six grandchildren who adore her, and until recently, she had been politically and socially active. However, since the loss of her husband 5 months ago, Joyce has been depressed and withdrawn—quite a change from the person she had been all her adult life. So, several weeks ago, at the urging of her family, she attended a workshop on how to deal with loss led by a professional facilitator. Other widows in the group offered support.
Maria S. is a retired public-school teacher in her early sixties who lives in Forest Hills with her husband, who is still employed. In addition to some part-time tutoring, she is a weekend artist with a strong interest in music and dance. Until recently, Maria never had the time to pursue her passion for the arts. However, in the last few months, she has been soaking up culture with a new group of interesting friends.
What do these 4 profiled women have in common?
They represent typical new members of The Transition Network (TTN), a national non-profit organization dedicated to enriching the lives of professional women over 50 who are “transitioning” from one major life situation to another.
A moveable feast of benefits for women on the right side of fifty
Founded seventeen years ago by Charlotte Frank and Christine Millen in New York City, the organization has grown rapidly, and it now has 13 chapters across the country that boast an enrollment of over 2,300 members. But New York City is still one of TTN’s premiere chapters, because its 600 diverse and active members can take advantage of the cultural, culinary, career and educational opportunities available in metropolitan New York City. (https://www.thetransitionnetwork.org/chapters-new-york-city/)
Members can choose from a colorful palette of unique and appropriate offerings. There are special interest groups for participants who want to explore and share their love of books, travel, food, personal finance, theater, hobbies, business, dance, art, movies, and politics, to name a few. In addition, other small units, known as transition peer groups, are available for members who wish to tackle the challenges of aging, retirement, reinvention, caregiving, and loss while building personal relationships. All of these groups were initiated and built by individual TTN members who sought to share their specific interests and life experience with others. For more information, see Peer Groups and Special Interest Groups.
Facebook Class, a Special Event
Fall Stop…Move Strong, a Special Event
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Another benefit category is Life Transition Services that offer ongoing workshops and “talking circles” on such topics as “Retirement” and “Aging.” Throughout the year, there are also cultural, educational and health-and-wellness special events. Recent examples include a Chelsea art gallery tour, Facebook classes, and the “Fall Stop…Move Strong™” Workshop.” A monthly online newsletter keeps members informed about scheduled events and offers valuable articles on a variety of subjects.
With a population of more than half the chapter membership, the Caring Collaborative is another popular offering. Its main purpose is to provide participants with practical help, support, and short-term assistance when medical issues arise. For example, such tasks as picking up a member at a doctor’s office after a procedure, grocery shopping for one who is homebound or accompanying someone to a medical consultation are available, if needed. After a required orientation session, a new member can join one of many neighborhood sub-groups scattered across the city. Monthly meetings provide the opportunity to bond over time with local Caring Collaborative members so that if help is ever needed, one is comfortable asking for it. Another feature is a member information exchange system open to every orientation graduate regardless of her local address. It allows participants to share their experiences with specific health issues and medical professionals privately and confidentially. Finally, The Caring Times is a newsletter published 4 times a year for all TTN chapter members, and it includes helpful articles about how to remain healthy and energetic.
A Caring Collaborative Group Meeting
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Taking advantage of TTN: Our four profiled members six months later…
In addition to joining “Travel Mates,” Rachel K. has become a member of “Ethnic Eats” because of her interest in sampling exotic cuisines. And, in response to a rave review from a new TTN member about the “Moving Forward” peer group, she is planning to attend an upcoming meeting. The feelings of isolation that dominated Rachel’s first few months in Brooklyn have disappeared and been replaced by an active social life.
Ann D. has become the Coordinator of the “Financial Security” special interest group, and she recently attended a “Talking Circles” event on “Unpartnered Aging.” Also, she has joined her local Caring Collaborative sub-group, where she has bonded with several neighborhood TTN members who are becoming friends. The devastating experience of being downsized has been replaced with a renewed confidence and Ann is even thinking of starting her own nonprofit organization.
Joyce W. has joined “Civic Action” because she and her husband were very active in local politics. She is now looking for members with an interest in jazz, and she has signed up for a Facebook class so that she can share photos with her loving grandchildren. TTN has been instrumental in helping Joyce move from grief and seclusion to the outside world where her social circle is expanding.
Maria S. has joined “Artists and Artisans,” fulfilling a long-term need to connect with other women artists. And because of her membership in “For the Love of Dance,” she is taking advantage of New York City’s role as the “dance capital of the world.” She is also thinking of exhibiting her work in the chapter’s annual art fair, which is open to the public. As a TTN member, Maria is spending much of her time sharing the artistic riches of the Big Apple with a new group of culture buddies.
Ethnic Eats, a Special Interest Group
2016 Artists and Artisans Fair
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Plans for the future…
For the first time in its history, an October Festival is in the works for the New York City Chapter. Supported by sponsors, this event was designed to reinforce the rich tapestry of benefits offered by TTN. Open to all members, it will feature food and drink, performances, a silent auction, and a few surprises. It will also provide an atmosphere for mingling and reconnection with an emphasis on having fun. Other future plans include a program on civic affairs, a comedy club event, and the Artists and Artisans Fair to be held on Saturday, November 18th from 11 to 6 pm at the LGBT Center, 208 West 13th St.
TTN-NYC has come a long way since its inception in 2000, and its members will continue to take advantage of an endless, ever-expanding feast of unique, relevant, and elevating experiences.
Ellen Freed has written educational,corporate training, and marketing materials for such clients as ABC Entertainment, American Express, Bank of America, Bayer Healthcare, Merck, and Volunteers of America. She is an enthusiastic TTN member and a co-author with Dr. Tomas Vietorisz of the soon-to-be-published book, Recovering Humanity: A Blueprint for Survival.