"I wanted an “Act Two” that was personally satisfying . . . I wanted to feel I was doing something worthwhile, where my experience was valued."

Bob Crum
FIRST5 Santa Clara County
San Francisco, CA


He enjoys working outside of high-tech, and seeing the impact his has on families

After 40 years in high-tech sales and marketing in companies like HP, Sun and Cisco, I found myself searching for a new position.  Ultimately, when I realized that a new tech job wasn’t going to happen after several months of searching, I gave myself permission to say, “I am retired from high-tech, but I’m too young and energetic to actually be retired. Now what?”  It was difficult to accept that I couldn’t find a company willing to hire me, which I believe is because of age-related bias in Silicon Valley. I had heard about the Encore Fellowships program and decided to look at that as an option.

When filling out the application and being asked my areas of interest, I was drawn to the performing arts. I’ve played the string bass with community orchestras for over 20 years, and I’ve always been interested in supporting community based arts organizations. But when FIRST 5 was brought to me, it resonated from the standpoint that I am a father — and what parent wouldn’t be interested in early childhood development and the leaps and bounds a child makes from age zero through 5? After a great interview, I decided to join FIRST 5 Santa Clara County, a public agency that funds programs that contribute to the development of children age 0-5. We provide grant money to other agencies who provide services to families of young children that focus on health and wellness.

I was brought in as part of Encore.org’s Generation to Generation campaign, to help FIRST 5 leverage the skills and expertise of accomplished adults in children’s programs and identify potential new partnerships with agencies and community groups. My sales and partnership development skills are being put to good use as I make connections between senior centers, other groups of older adults and the Family Resource Centers (FRCs) funded by FIRST 5. The idea is to match the experience and skills of one generation with the needs of the newest generation.

I spend most of my time cultivating partnerships with agencies that run FIRST 5 FRCs. In the first seven months of my fellowship, we recruited 49 older-adult volunteers to work in six Family Resource Centers. I’ve also made connections between the City of Sunnyvale Senior Center and an FRC based in Mountain View, and connected another FRC in San Jose with the Senior Center in Milpitas.

I wanted an “Act Two” that was personally satisfying and as far away from high-tech as possible because I wanted to feel I was doing something worthwhile. As I’ve worked within this Fellowship, I’ve gained a real sense of self-worth because the people at FIRST 5 value my skills and background. I am working with an organization where I feel wanted and appreciated because of my background, whereas in high-tech, I felt sidelined because of my age.

I’d like to think I’m making a difference, and it’s a natural, easy thing for me to do — building relationships, cold-calling new organizations, and attempting to interest people in the Gen to Gen campaign. It’s easy because it builds on my experience in sales and marketing, which included building partnerships and influencing industry analysts and press. I’m using those skills to share the importance of intergenerational relationships with the organizations I talk to. I think the biggest difference between this work and my recent high-tech history is that I’m truly interested in what I’m doing for FIRST 5, and I can see the direct result my work has on families and children.

I have a new-found appreciation for the nonprofit world, and the organizations and people trying to make changes in our society. There are still so many pockets in our communities that have great needs. I really admire the organizations trying to make a difference in the lives of people at the lower end of the socio-economic scale and improve the lives of their children.

I hope to continue working for FIRST 5 part-time after my fellowship is completed.  One great thing about working part time is that I have set in motion plans to open a craft brewery and taproom locally. If not for the Encore Fellowship, I might have been in a part time, less interesting job which would have been much less fulfilling.

Hear Bob speak about Generation to Generation campaign at First 5.


Interested in becoming an Encore Fellow? Learn more and apply at https://encore.org/fellowships/fellow/

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