College alum Edward Woods is an advocate for seniors on state
and local panels.
Edward Woods has
great advice for people planning to retire: Find a passion
in life and pursue it as a second career.
Thats exactly the path that Woods followed. Even at age 71 following
a second retirement, he remains active on behalf of senior citizens
and as a member of two Mission College advisory panels.
"The only part of me thats retired is the tired
part," he likes to joke. "But I just keep going, like the Energizer
Before his first retirement, Woods worked for 30 years as a merchandising
manager and designer in the highly competitive fashion industry in New
York and Los Angeles. In his late fifties, Woods decided he wanted to
do something less hectic, and at the same time help others. The death
of his father helped him decide.
Woods had returned to New York when he learned that his 93-year-old father
was ill. The father, who eventually died after surgery, had always enjoyed
good health and lived alone. Woods visit to his fathers apartment
gave him a glimpse of the daily challenges his father faced.
"It made me very aware of the need for care and attention that older
people like my dad, living alone, have," he said. "Even when
theres family around, seniors can fall through the cracks and a
lot of their needs go unmet."
Still looking for a second career at the time, he said "
bulb just sort of clicked in my head. I began researching gerontology
programs and I said, This is what I want to do. "
Woods was referred to Mission College, where he met with gerontology department
heads Eloise Cantrell and Sandi Lampert. He was sold on the program and
two years later, he had earned a certificate in Gerontology. After graduating,
Woods went to work as social services director at a Van Nuys health care
center with many Alzheimers and dementia patients.
"I spent a great deal of time with the families in that job,"
he said. "So many of them were devastated by their parents
condition and required a lot of therapy themselves."
works closely with Laura Trejo, general manager of the L.A.
City Department of Aging.
After six years, Woods
retired again. Sort of. Turns out, hes just as active as
ever as the president of the Council of Aging for the City of Los Angeles
and as a Senior Assembly Member of the California Senior Legislature.
Both positions put him in the role of advocate and unpaid lobbyist for
senior citizens. Woods is also a member of the Mission College Citizens
Oversight Committee for Proposition A / AA and of the colleges Gerontology
program advisory panel.
Given current economic
and health care trends, Woods thinks everyone who is within a few years
of retirement should consider a second career preferably doing
something they love. A hobby or interest, like art or music, may translate
into a part-time job somewhere, he said. And community college is ideal
for seniors because it does not require four years of study for certification,
Even more than economics, people on the verge of retirement should think
about the quality of life they may face after they walk away from their
careers, he believes.
"Unless you love golf or fishing, a lot of retirees wind up as couch
potatoes in front of their TVs all day," he said. "And
that leads to poor health and depression."
His advice to seniors: Be active, help others, stay involved, and, above
all, keep your mind stimulated.
"Im a big believer that if you use it, you wont lose
BY EDUARDO PARDO