Encores Are Making a Difference at Cleveland’s May Dugan Center

You might have heard that with age comes experience. But, have you ever thought about how that experience can benefit communities?

Retired and older adults across the country are joining the movement that leverages experienced workers to create a positive impact at a local level. The movement, Encore, matches those who are not ready to completely leave the workforce with community-based organizations.

What is Encore?

Encore focusing on creative ways to tap into the power of experience and improve the lives of others. It combines work in the second half of life with social impact, continued income, and personal meaning.

Encores work in jobs for the greater good using a lifetime of experience and highly-developed skill sets to create impact in their communities. Encore work is a paid position often in public interest fields, such as education, the environment, health, the government sector, social services, and others.

Since 2011, some 10,000 Americans have turned 65 each day. In ten years, we will evolve from 1 in 10 Americans being 65 to 1 in 4. The benefits of tapping into this extensive pool of experienced workers, mentors, and leaders have the potential to make huge waves in our communities.

VANTAGE Encore Staffing Network connects Encores to partnering organizations in need of extra support. Encores are placed in positions that best fit their abilities and interests in the greater Cleveland area and Summit County. The result – over 2,000 hours of service were provided to nonprofits in 2017 alone.

Join the Encore Movement

May Dugan’s Encore story

A division of VANTAGE Aging, Encore Staffing Network partners with nonprofits to connect them with experienced older adults who want to use their skill sets to improve the lives of others. One of those partners is the May Dugan Center in Cleveland, OH.

May Dugan is a multi-service center serving residents of Cleveland’s near west side neighborhoods and the Greater Cleveland community. For 43 years, the Center has been committed to a comprehensive and caring approach to helping people overcome socio-economic disadvantages.

For the past few years, the Center has taken on three Encores to help with different aspects of operations, including development, education, and programming. Since then, two Encores have been hired as full-time employees of May Dugan.

“We are able to fulfill our mission with quality staff members,” said Executive Director Rick Kemm. “We are very fortunate to have partnered with VANTAGE Encore Staffing Network.”

What makes the successful placements so special is that, through its partnership with May Dugan, experienced adults who want to continue working and affect change have the opportunity through Encore. The relationship fosters a connection between experienced individuals and communities.


Vanessa is the newest Encore at the May Dugan Center. Her professional background includes working as a business analyst and project manager. She has been employed by large corporations but also has an extensive volunteer background.

After Vanessa moved to Cleveland from Atlanta, she was very interested in getting involved in the nonprofit world. Her friend encouraged her to get involved with Encore. Soon, she was placed in assignments that fit her skills and interests.

The first project Vanessa worked on as an Encore was at an elementary school as part of a tutoring project by the Cleveland Board of Education. To Vanessa, working with the fourth- and fifth-grade students was challenging but fun.

Then, she was assigned to the May Dugan Center as the Program Coordinator for the Senior Outreach program. The group does activities that provide a holistic approach to healthy living for older adults. For example, a nurse practitioner visited the Center and talked about diabetes. Participants also take care of a garden located at the front of the building.

Although Vanessa is interested in full-time employment, she noted the flexibility Encore offers for those looking for part-time opportunities.

“There are some folks who are in my age group (Baby Boomers and older) who only want a part-time job,” said Vanessa. “Encore is a perfect part-time opportunity. It gives you the opportunity to really be involved in an organization and interact. You make a difference and still have time for yourself and can do the things that you need to do.”

Vanessa has many plans for her future that involve continuing to grow professionally and personally. She has plans to exercise her creativity through arts and crafts, travel, and volunteer.

“As far my career goes, I really like the kind of work I’m doing now. I would like to continue to do this for as long as I feel that I want to go out and work for a living every day.”


Patty came into the Encore program with an extensive background in nonprofit. She has worked at everything from national organizations to small colleges, primarily doing development and event planning. After being an Encore for three years, May Dugan hired Patty on full-time.

Since being hired, Patty does the same work she did as an Encore. She works in development and handles stewardship of donors, keeping records, and building relationships with people. She also utilizes her experience in event planning.

Throughout Patty’s career as a volunteer and a professional, she has always appreciated the power of doing good for others.

“The most important thing you could do is to make a difference to other people,” said Patty. “It sounds kind of corny, but the bottom line is that Cleveland is really a caring community. When you see the needs of people up close, it inspires you not only to do this kind of work but also to encourage people you know to come and get involved.”

After three years as an Encore, Patty is now a full-time employee of May Dugan. She has no plans of slowing down as she continues to contribute to the success of the organization.

“A lot of people have experience that still works,” said Patty. “I was happy to see that there was still a place that I could do good work. I was glad to know that there was something like Encore that I could be a part of and make a difference.”


Robert has been an educator for over forty years. In 2015, he went from full time to part time as a manager at Project Learn of Summit County, a nonprofit that helps adults reach their goals of self-sufficiency, independence, and job retention. Robert also provided GED instruction at the Justice Center and the Euclid Jail.

“I had reduced my workload of reporting and writing grants,” said Robert. “That’s what retirement was to me – get rid of the paperwork.”

Robert was interested in exploring different part-time options that would allow him to stay engaged with the community but was not looking for a new full-time job. He decided to attend a job fair and came across the Encore Staffing Network. Encore reviewed Robert’s resume and matched him with May Dugan the same day.

“I was very pleased with where I had landed,” said Robert. “I really enjoy May Dugan and working with the staff. They’re just so genuinely so caring and helpful.”

Robert was able to work May Dugan into his schedule as he transitioned out of his other positions. He works in the Education and Resource Center using his years of experience and passion for teaching to help adults earn GEDs.

There is a wide range of people who receive support from the programs offered at May Dugan. Robert especially enjoys working with his students, like one individual who is 80 years old and working towards his GED.

“When I retired, I didn’t want to just completely get out of the field because I’ve been in education for 40 years,” said Robert. “I wanted to continue to work in education to keep connections and see what was going on. Encore gave me the opportunity to do that and work with so many great people.”

Robert has been hired at May Dugan and continues to work in the Education and Resource Center.

Get involved with Encore

Encore Staffing Network provides experienced job seekers with the opportunity to continue working and contribute to the community. It is also a program that employers can leverage to grow their reach and support their mission.

Interested in becoming a part of the Encore Movement? Reach us today through these options:

Click here for a Contact Form

Phone: 216-361-9750

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