Retirees apply skills as Ignatian volunteers

From left: Frank Lachapelle, Jim Cuddihy, Jose Severino, Ron Oberdick and Efrain Hernandez at the Reconnect Café in Brooklyn, N.Y. (NCR photo/Peter Feuerherd)

Brooklyn, N.Y. — Each day, 10,000 American baby boomers hit the magical retirement age of 65. Some take up golf but Manhattanite Jim Cuddihy, 74, who five years ago retired from a career as an electrical engineer for media companies, decided he would visit museums. He soon became an expert on New York’s art treasures.

“When I got to know where the paintings were, I realized I was spending too much time there,” he recalled during a November interview with NCR. He spoke at the café operated by Reconnect, a nonprofit agency located in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood where Cuddihy serves as a teacher and mentor for young men seeking education and work.

Fortunately, Cuddihy had some Jesuit connections who put him in touch with the Ignatian Volunteer Corps. For the past two years, beginning with assisting at a Catholic school in Harlem and for the past year at Reconnect, Cuddihy has been an IVC volunteer, one of 500 post-retirement workers in 17 regions who find renewed purpose helping others.

The volunteers are “very diverse, very interested and very interesting. They come from all disciplines of life and are doing very different things,” said Cuddihy. Being an Ignatian volunteer means having connections that direct particular skills to nonprofit agencies who can use them. Ignatian Volunteer Corps also provides regular retreats, seminars and the support of a spiritual advisor to make sense of it all in the Jesuit tradition of seeing God in all things.

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