Guerrilla Aging: Elder Wisdom Circle

Posted on November 15, 2014



A few days ago, I started an online search for local volunteer opportunities. I always prefer working directly with people, and my most enjoyable and rewarding volunteer work to date has been tutoring pregnant teens, in a program that helps them complete their high school education.  In addition to the academics, I always valued the side conversations we had, in which I was able to speak to them about life choices and the issues they were having. I’ve been humbled and brought to tears over the circumstances most of them come from and the brave choices each has made to put education first in their lives.

My search took me to Elder Wisdom Circle.  There I stopped. The name, alone, conjured up everything I have believed to be true. I have my own way of describing such wisdom.  It’s called perspective. It is the strongest asset we have when we navigate our lives at this time, as well as when we interact with a much younger world.

I eagerly read on. “The ElderWisdomCircleTM is an online inter-generational program pairing advice seekers with a network of seniors (“Elders”) who provide empathetic, caring, and supportive advice based on their own life experiences.

Elders answer advice letters via the Internet, offering readers of younger generations free, personalized advice on a wide range of topics—love and relationships, family and child-rearing, career and self-improvement, and more.”

It’s brilliant in its simplicity.  An online pairing of those who have navigated the roads of life with those who are still in the process. EWC makes it very clear that they do not give medical, legal or financial advice.  All of their advice comes from real seniors, based on the wisdom that have accumulated over time.

It had my name on it. 

Elder Wisdom Circle was started in 2001 and now has 600 Elders (aged 60 to 105) across North America. It’s an IRS 501(c)3 nonprofit member association and is completely volunteer run. To date, it has addresses 300,000 questions from people across the country.

The application, itself, was an eye opener.  Part of it consisted of reading samples of about six actual questions submitted by people and writing responses to two of them. The questions included a child whose parents were in the process of divorcing, a man whose marriage was unraveling, a twenty-year-old who felt that he was already at a dead-end in life, a young mom who couldn’t control her two-year-old.

I read these short inquiries over and over. I was bursting with the desire to answer them all.  In addition, is a commitment to check in with the site on a regular basis and to be willing to answer several letters a month. Perfect for my unpredictable real estate schedule. I immediately filled out the application and am now awaiting word to see if I have been accepted as an Elder.  Even the thought of being called Elder Renee lends gravitas to my life.

I’ll keep you posted as to my progress.  And I urge any of you aged 60 and over to take a look at the website and consider applying to be an Elder.