Dr. Elbert Cole, a minister in Kansas City, Missouri, observed that as individuals retired from careers and moved into the next stage of life, they maintained an intense desire to continue growing and contributing to society. He recognized that, with a deep sense of compassion to help others, a need to engage in lifelong learning, and a desire to improve the quality of life in their communities, older adults are a force for good. These values just needed to be tapped…

So in 1971, a community team created a new organization that provided opportunities to meet these needs and The Shepherd’s Center of America opened in 1975. Designed by, with and for older adults, it empowered participants to use their wisdom, skills and talents to create opportunities for themselves and others. Cole’s model inspired neighboring communities to launch their own centers. The Shepherd’s Center of Richmond, was founded in 1984 by Rev. Robert S. Seiler.
Cole and his model of aging have been recognized by national awards and have shaped the conversation on positive aging. His model remains relevant today as Shepherd’s Centers nationwide continue to promote solutions for ways of living in later life. You can learn more about Elbert Cole’s inspiring, compassionate vision in this video.

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