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This multimedia series about life transitions is a WHYY project designed and produced as part of Coming of Age, a collaboration of:

  • WHYY Wider Horizons
  • The Temple University Center for Intergenerational Learning
  • United Way of Southeastern PA
  • and AARP-PA.

 


The Coming of Age project is generously supported by:



The Executive Producer for the radio series is Elisabeth Perez Luna. Willo Carey is the Executive Director of Wider Horizons.


 


Special Interview:

Elisabeth Perez Luna interviews Dick Goldberg, a writer and playwright who directs the Coming of Age initiative to promote volunteering among the 50 plus. Listen to the interview »



  • Iris Brown and Tomasita Romero

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    Iris Brown and Tomasita Romero have built 6 gardens as a little oasis in a rather blighted area.

    Iris Brown and Tomasita Romero
  • ReClam the Bay

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    Every Friday morning, a group of environmental stewards gather by the bay to check on their babies. Baby clams and oysters that is.

    ReClam the Bay
  • Coot Avengers

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    Coot Avengers is a comic strip about four "super" senior citizens and their adventures.

    Coot Avengers
  • Linda Slodki and Arleen Olshan

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    Linda and Arleen founded the Mount Airy Arts Garage to contribute to their creative community.

    Linda Slodki and Arleen Olshan
  • GE Senior Volunteers

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    What happens when you put a group of retired engineers together? They find a good reason to fix things.

    GE Senior Volunteers
  • Jane Brooks and Joyce Burd

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    Longtime friends Jane Brooks and Joyce Burd bring ballroom dancing to classrooms in Philadelphia.

    Jane Brooks and Joyce Burd
  • Skip Wiener

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    Skip Wiener works to transform vacant land into public green space and vegetable gardens.

    Skip Wiener
  • Fernande Davis

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    Ferdande Davis brings her World War 2 experiences to the classroom.

    Fernande Davis
  • Stiffel Swingers

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    Every Friday afternoon it's cabaret time at the Stiffel Senior Center in South Philadelphia.

    Stiffel Swingers
  • Jack Yampolsky

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    Jack Yampolsky's life took a turn when he started writing, and at the age of 81 he published his first book.

    Jack Yampolsky
  • Theresa BrownGold

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    Theresa BrownGold is a documentary portrait painter; she uses her art to explore social issues.

    Theresa BrownGold
  • Brenda Malinics

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    Surviving a brain tumor, Brenda Malinics found a new appreciation for living and now volunteers to help animals, wild and domesticated.

    Brenda Malinics
  • Philadelphia Athletics Historical Society

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    The Philadelphia Athletics played their last season in 1954, but a group of faithful fans run a small museum in Hatboro, Pennsylvania to ensure the team won't be forgotten.

    Philadelphia Athletics Historical Society
  • Joe Becton

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    Whether showing the Liberty Bell or gathering with other African American Civil War re-enactors, Joe Becton stays in character — and is always dressed in the fashions of the day.

    Joe Becton
  • Roebling Museum Volunteers

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    Though the steel mill in Roebling has been closed since 1974, some of the lifelong residents of the town work to keep its history alive.

    Roebling Museum Volunteers
  • Elaine Hoffman Watts

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    See how Elaine Hoffman Watts keeps the musical tradition of her ancestors alive for future generations.

    Elaine Watts
  • Ralph Hunter

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    After retiring from his career, Ralph Hunter didn't imagine he'd end up running a museum.

    Ralph Hunter
  • Nu Nu Zan

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    Watch how Burmese immigrant Nu Nu Zan helps refugees navigate their new lives in PA.

    Nu Nu Zan
  • Sarah McEneaney

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    With her neighbors, Sarah is working to transform an unused train track into an urban green space.

    Sarah McEneaney
  • Dr. Simeone

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    When he retired from medicine, Dr. Simeone decided it was time to share his unique collection.

    Dr. Simeone
  • Erik Younge

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    Working for the unique newspaper One Step Away has helped Erik Younge get back on his feet.

    Erik Younge
  • Frank Fulbrook

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    Frank Fulbrook, a social activist of the 60's, is keeping the flame alive in Camden.

    Frank Fulbrook
  • Men of Tustin

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    The Men of Tustin are giving back to their communities by mentoring children after school.

    Men of Tustin
  • The Elder Wisdom Circle

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    See what kind of advice the Elder Wisdom Circle has to offer.

    Elder Wisdom Circle
  • Ruth Balter

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    Ruth Balter and a group of like-minded women got together and formed the Granny Peace Brigade.

    Ruth Balter
  • Dave Scheiner

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    At 55, Dave Scheiner decided to stop practicing podiatry to follow his passion for basketball and education.

    Dave Scheiner
  • Jack Burch

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    After retiring, Burch started a school to help people learn English and pass the citizenship test.

    Juliet Goodfriend
  • Juliet Goodfriend

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    After becoming paralyzed, Juliet refocused her energy into saving the Bryn Mawr movie house.

    Juliet Goodfriend
  • LeeRoy Jordan

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    LeeRoy Jordan is the program director for Ready Willing and Able and he has a deep understanding of where the residents are coming from.

    LeeRoy Jordan
  • Blanche Burton-Lyles

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    See what Blanche has done to preserve the legacy of her mentor, Marian Anderson.

    Blanche Burton-Lyles
  • Carol Saylor

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    When painter Carol Saylor noticed a steep decline in her eyesight, she turned to sculpture.

    Carol Saylor
  • Derek Felton

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    Felton knows enough about hunger from personal experience to run a food pantry in West Philadelphia.

    Derek Felton
  • Reverend Joe Williams

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    Reverend Joe Williams, retired from the Dixie Hummingbirds, leads a fellowship of hope in Germantown.

    Reverend Joe Williams
  • Silver Saddles

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    After retiring as school teachers, Diane Elliot and Kathy Sadowski decided to work with horses.

    Silver Saddles
  • Ron Kravitz

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    Through drumming, Ron Kravitz has found his voice and a sense of community.

    Ron Kravitz
  • Joe Tiberino

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    In honor of his wife, Joe Tiberino turned his home into a museum and gathering place for artists.

    Joe Tiberino
  • Frederick Noesner

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    Frederick Noesner has found fulfillment in teaching what some craftsman did in colonial times.

    Frederick Noesner
  • Mary Seton Corboy

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    Mary Seton Corboy is working to make locally grown produce accessible for her lower income neighbors.

    Mary Seton Corboy
  • Ron Hathaway

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    Retirement hasn't dampened Vietnam Veteran Ron Hathaway's sense of duty to his fellow soldiers.

    Ron Hathaway
  • Robb Hutter

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    Actor and instructor Robb Hutter brings his teaching to a new audience.

    Robb Hutter
  • Al Chagan

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    After starting his non-profit thrift store chain, Chagan says he's never felt more fulfilled.

    Al Chagan
  • Jack Fisher

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    Jack Fisher facilitates a group of men with disabilities who get together twice a month to talk about sports.

    Jack Fisher
  • Skip Voluntad

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    Skip Voluntad is committed to helping Asian immigrants, both old and new.

    Skip Voluntad
  • Robert Smith

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    At 61, Bob Smith was ordained in the Episcopal Church and now leads the congregation of the Memorial Church of The Good Shepherd in Philadelphia.

    Robert Smith
  • Gladys Flamer

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    Gladys Flamer likes to drive her Cadillac in Coatesville, PA. Nothing unusual about that, except that she's 103 years old and she uses her car to help people with no transportation.

    Gladys Flamer
  • Barry Vernick

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    Following his wife's death, Barry Vernick started volunteering at an organization that prepares and delivers meals to terminally ill people. It changed his life.

    Barry Vernick
  • Darlene and William

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    After a debilitating form of cancer forced Darlene to retire, the Smith's decided to focus on bringing neighbors together and helping preserve open space.

    Darlene and William
  • Sheldon Weintraub

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    Sheldon Weintraub is a self proclaimed ball of fire. At 74 he's gone from retiring as a doctor, to being a Senior Olympics basketball champion, to pursuing his lifelong interest in art.

    Sheldon Weintraub
  • Helen Clavon

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    In her retirement, Helen Clavon joined a line dance group and is now booking their performances at rehab centers and nursing homes.

    Helen Clavon
  • Rabbi Jonathan Gerard

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    Rabbi Gerard spends time with prisoners of all faiths and backgrounds - including those on death row.

    Rabbi Jonathan Gerard
  • William Baker

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    William Baker is more familiar with a prison cell than with a home. Now in his fifties, Baker has made a commitment to helping others on the road to recovery and is using art as one of his tools.

    William Baker
  • Bill Pelle

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    Bille Pelle participates in Connecting Generations, a program designed to help gay and lesbians avoid the isolation that often accompanies aging.

    Bill Pelle
  • Joe Beyer

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    After raising four children, surviving the death of his spouse of fifty years and achieving a fulfilling career, Joe Beyer is finally flying ... a glider.

    Joe Beyer
  • Marie Swayze

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    Marie Swayze teamed up with Dr Lorna Stuart and founded "The Clinic," a program that provides free or "pay what you can" health services to the uninsured.

    Marie Swayze
  • Freyda Thomas

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    Fryeda Thomas grew up in the world of entertainment. Now Thomas's life has come full circle and she's performing again in front of a captive audience.

    Freyda Thomas
  • Dorothy Johnson-Speight

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    As a family therapist specializing in grief and loss counseling, Dorothy Johnson- Spreight never though that it would apply to her.

    Dorothy Johnson-Speight
  • Donna Miller

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    Donna Miller runs an after school program where high school students do there homework, play games, and cook dinner.

    Donna Miller
  • Joan Waite

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    As an anthropologist and educator, Joan Waite focused on African Art, but she waited for retirement to plunge into another of her passions: singing.

    Joan Waite
  • Linda Dubin Garfield

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    Linda Dubin Garfield worked for 38 years as a school guidance counselor, while always keeping her lifelong passion for art at a low flame. Now in retirement she is finally being the artist she wanted to be.

    Linda Dubin Garfield
  • Edie Elkan

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    Edie Elkan and her colleagues play little harps while walking through hospital halls stopping to give impromptu concerts at patients' bedsides.

    Edie Elkan
  • Mark Lyons

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    When he retired as a physicians assistant, Mark Lyons traded in his stethoscope for a microphone.

    Mark Lyons
  • Marylea Perot Klauder

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    In search of the great outdoors, Marylea Perot Klauder started volunteering at the Fort Washington State Park and created the Militia Hill Hawk Watch.

    Marylea Perot Klauder
  • Walter Palmer

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    We visit Walter Palmer at the school he founded, the Walter D. Palmer Leadership Learning Partners Charter School in Philadelphia.

    Walter Palmer
  • Bob Pierson

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    The farmer and director of Farm to City, Bob Pierson has been organizing farmers markets in Philadelphia for the past 13 years.

    Bob Pierson
  • Joe Edwards

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    In his retirement, Joe Edwards volunteers five days a week at the Philadelphia Senior Center assisting his fellow seniors citizens with paperwork.

    Joe Edwards
  • Ethel J. David

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    At 93, Ethel says her longevity is fueled by an insatiable curiosity and the ability to notice the beauty in things.

    Ethel J. David
  • Ed and Fred

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    Though they're united by their interest in preserving the environment, Ed and Fred's individual histories are quite different.

    Ed and Fred
  • Tobey Dichter

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    Tobey Dichter helped create a software program for older adults to simplify the internet and open the doors to the ether world.

    Tobey Dichter
  • John Baker

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    When his career in banking ended, he saw this as an opportunity to pursue his lifelong passion in music.

    John Baker
  • LaDeva Davis

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    As a dancer, LaDeva Davis has been sharing her love of the arts with audiences and students alike.

    LaDeva Davis
  • June Robbins

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    June Robbins learned about laughter as the best antidote for hardship during the Great Depression.

    June Robbins
  • Edna Kotrola

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    Edna Kotrola has led a rich life of work, travel and family, but when debilitating pain forced her to quit her job, she decided to redirect her life to fight depression.

    Edna Kotrola
  • Albert Doering

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    Albert Doering's viola had been sitting in a closet for the past 50 years, but after raising a family and retiring as a lawyer he decided to retrieve the instrument and start again.

    Albert Doering
  • Doris Truluck and Barbara Abel

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    Doris Truluck and Barbara Abel are a mother and daugter team, one's 83, the other 55. They run the Genuine Bread and Specialty Shop in West Philadelphia.

    Doris Truluck and Barbara Abel
  • Carmen Matus

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    When Carmen Matus retired and moved in with her daughter she decided she had time and energy to help in the Latino community.

    Carmen Matus


Coming of Age

Funny thing about aging. Few people feel completely comfortable talking about it. Yet, it's inevitable. From beatnicks to sputnik, rock and roll and radicalism, this group is now experiencing a new coming of age. You can view our full collection of stories in the Coming of Age archive.


Credits: Photos by Jessica Kourkounis — Audio by Therese Madden




Gladys Flamer

Watch the audio slideshow

Gladys Flamer likes to drive her Cadillac in Coatesville, PA. Nothing unusual about that, except that she's 103 years old and she uses her car to help people with no transportation. Flamer has had many jobs; from serving as a domestic for wealthy families, to becoming a nurse at age 59. She's worked in steel mill and owned a beauty shop. The centenarian retired from the work world when she reached 90, but has not stopped serving her community. She's active on City Council, with her church and in her neighborhood.





Recent stories


June Robbins

Watch the audio slideshow

June Robbins learned about laughter as the best antidote for hardship during the Great Depression. That realization stayed with her though several jobs including being a naval draftsman in World War II. Now a great grandmother, Robbins volunteers as a clown for the Spiffy Clown troop which performs at school, hospitals and nursing homes.


Ron Hathaway

Watch the audio slideshow

Retirement hasn't dampened Vietnam Veteran Ron Hathaway's sense of duty to his fellow soldiers. As a member of the New Jersey Mission of Honor, Hathaway and a group of like- minded veterans live by their motto "never again will one generation of veterans abandon another".


View more Coming of Age stories »