Encore: Seniors find their passion, second act in the working world

A growing number of seniors are on the move, finding purpose and passion in their golden years. 

Arlene Grosso is one of them. She's the owner of M&D Enterprises of Florida, a construction company based in Pinellas County. Arlene got her contractor’s license in her seventies. 

"Not an easy thing to do. I don't want to have to redo it," she laughs. 

A few years ago, she put a career in real estate on hold to care for her aging mother. 

"After she passed, I had really gone through a lot of my retirement and said I really need to get back to work,” she recalled.

Arlene seized the opportunity to reinvent herself. She started M&D Enterprises with her daughter. Through practical renovations, they make life at home more comfortable for seniors. 

"I don't feel like I go to work and that's the important key," Arlene said. 

She's part of a growing trend among baby boomers in the U.S. 

"People are stepping away from what they’ve been and what they've been doing for a long time,” said Bevan Rogel. She's the founder of Encore Tampa Bay. It's an organization that helps seniors prepare for their "second act". 

"I get so many calls from people who were forced out, or got that retirement paper,” she said.

Rogel said many people don't know where to turn after doing the same job for 30 to 40 years. 

Seventy percent of Americans don't save enough for retirement. Therefore, whether by necessity, or in search of purpose, boomers are finding the need to reinvent themselves in their later years.

Bevan encourages them to seek passion. 

"Start beginning to ask some questions. ‘What matters to me? What lights my fire?’" she said. 

For Eric Folsom, that flame is ignited by his love of art. 

"I retired about a year ago and I just realized in the last few months, my career's back," he said.

After a diverse career path that included work at the St. Petersburg Times, Eric has turned his life-long passion as a metalsmith artist into a full-time gig

"My head is full of ideas and I have a limited amount of time that I can get these out,” he said. “So, I am trying to work every day in my studio, making these ideas while I still am able to.” 

Rogel said it's a movement future generations will learn from. 

"We are setting the stage,” she said, “creating the model for people to say you don't have to wait for 50 to find purpose."