September 14, 2017
ST. PAUL, Minn. – AARP Minnesota and a civic engagement group called Pollen are honoring 50 Minnesotans over age 50.
The award smashes the myth that older people are washed up. Instead, the honorees are doing groundbreaking work in their communities.
They come from all over the state and from diverse backgrounds, ranging in age from 50 to 86.
Seth Boffeli, communications director for AARP Minnesota, says many of the award winners moved from corporate to nonprofit or volunteer work.
"People who are in their 50s and 60s have a lifetime of experiences, of skills, and they take all of that, they just pour it into those new endeavors, and it really makes a difference in communities across the state," Boffeli states.
The 50-over-50 award honors 10 people in five categories: nonprofit groups, business, arts, community and disruption, meaning dispelling stereotypes about aging.
Jill Pavlak won in the business category. She and her wife Deb own Urban Growler in St. Paul, the first female-owned microbrewery in the state.
They left successful corporate careers to take on the new challenge about six years ago – before same-sex marriage was legal and when the issue was dividing Minnesotans against each other.
"Boy, when this was all happening, if people would just sit down with us and have a beer, they would realize there's nothing to be afraid of,” Pavlak states. “We all want the same thing – and the whole reason for the brewery was we wanted to bring people together."
Urban Growler has community tables and organizes community-building events.
Pavlak says life experience has taught her to take setbacks in stride and to ask for help when she doesn't know something.
"As I age, I just think of the accumulation of wonderful people I get to have in my life,” she relates. “All these connections you've built over the years of your working life and your career and your friendships. You have so many people to support you."
That sense of gratitude and a taste for adventure is something the honorees all share. To learn more about the honorees and how to nominate someone, visit 50over50mn.org.