As most people approach retirement, they dream about how the luxury of extra time will set them free to do the things postponed for so many years. For some, it’s endless walks on the beach or travel to exotic places. For others, limitless rounds of golf or weekend sails. And, for many, some form of charitable work is also a part of the plan.
Many assume that when they retire, the nearby food pantry, library or pet sanctuary will welcome them with open arms and revere their many talents. After all, who would turn down an able and willing volunteer?
But when Stephen Medici, a retired executive from New York, left the workforce, he encountered an obstacle he hadn’t expected. His local church, VA hospital and library were all skeptical of his offer to help with part-time, unpaid work. It seemed, the nonprofits he approached were more interested in using his commercial skills, like fundraising, than they were in someone who was offering to teach Sunday school, wheel around patients or return books to the proper shelves. But after many years of being his company’s chief rainmaker, asking others for money was the last thing Medici wanted to do in retirement.
Fortunately, his local firehouse was looking for daytime EMTs and firefighters. So, after six months of training at the Suffolk County Fire Academy, he became a volunteer firefighter and EMT. A few years later, he was a lieutenant.
Still, there were worthwhile charities he wanted to support financially, but not necessarily by dipping into his retirement nest egg. That’s when his wife suggested he finish writing the book he’d begun so many years ago and donate the royalties to charity. That idea alone was enough catalyst to jumpstart his storytelling passion, and he published his first novel in 2007, donating all the proceeds to the Harry Chapin Food Bank.
Seventeen years later, Medici has retired from the fire department and moved to Wellington. He has written five more books in support of St. Jude Children’s Hospital, the Fresh Air Fund and the Tunnel to Towers Foundation. The royalties from one of his recent novels, Wellington Redemption, all go to the Suffolk County Volunteer Firefighters Burn Center at Stony Brook Hospital. It’s the only Level 1 burn center for a hundred miles.
“I still hate asking people for money,” Medici said. “Even when it goes to a charity. It’s a lot easier asking people to buy a book. They get an interesting novel, and the charity gets the cash. Winners all around.”
Medici’s books can be ordered through Amazon.com.