September 21, 2017

MCC and EMM launch ASOPortal.org to connect older adults with international opportunities

Written by  Tony Freeman
2014 short-term Eastern Mennonite Missions (EMM) worker Mary Boll (left) stands with a new friend in Albania, where she served at a milk processing plant with her husband Nevin Boll. EMM and Mennonite Central Committee are partnering to create ASOPortal.org, a website with short-term international service opportunities geared toward older adults and retirees like the Bolls. Photo provided by Nevin and Mary Boll. 2014 short-term Eastern Mennonite Missions (EMM) worker Mary Boll (left) stands with a new friend in Albania, where she served at a milk processing plant with her husband Nevin Boll. EMM and Mennonite Central Committee are partnering to create ASOPortal.org, a website with short-term international service opportunities geared toward older adults and retirees like the Bolls. Photo provided by Nevin and Mary Boll.

LANCASTER, Pa. — You’re 55 or older, and you want to put your faith into action. Wondering where to go?

Just visit Eastern Mennonite Missions (EMM) and Mennonite Central Committee’s (MCC’s) newly created Anabaptist Service Opportunities Portal at ASOPortal.org.

Through ASOPortal.org, potential volunteers 55 years and older can discover all of the short-term, international service opportunities being offered by both EMM and MCC.

The assignments currently listed on ASOPortal.org are typically three to six months in length, although some go on for a full year. Teachers, children’s home workers, visiting professors, accountants, church development workers, and healthcare workers are some examples of the volunteers needed.

Many retirees and older adults have spent time serving overseas through opportunities provided by both EMM and MCC. ASOPortal.org is a partnership between the two agencies meant to help interested adults identify service opportunities more easily.

After retiring from their faculty positions at Goshen College in 2009, Ron and Sally Jo Milne have found fulfillment in serving on several short-term assignments with MCC, including as interim country representatives for Uganda and, later, Bangladesh.

“These short-term opportunities have allowed us to see different programs and the issues they face, to hear other people’s experiences, and to broaden our own understanding. Through our experiences, we have developed a whole new circle of friends from around the world,” they said.

Nevin Boll, who in 2014 served at a milk processing plant in Albania with his wife Mary Boll, said he reached a stage of life where the circumstances were right for an international service opportunity through EMM.

“I was finally free of my commitment to my job, as I was retiring. Our parents were all passed on, and we no longer had an obligation to be here for their care,” he said. “I realized I had skills that were needed in Albania.”

Evelyn Hershey, an art teacher from Atglen, Pa., served with EMM in 2016 as a hostess at Amani Gardens Inn in Nairobi, Kenya, after her husband passed away. In Nairobi, she also found opportunities to teach art to local children.

“It was a way to use the experience I had gained throughout my life to bless and serve others,” said Hershey.

“The key motivation for creating ASOPortal.org was the recognition that adults approaching retirement age want to stay engaged in using their gifts in productive ways,” said Troy Landis, EMM discipleship coach. “We hope that this will allow many older adults to continue to offer themselves in service to God in tangible and fulfilling ways, while also benefiting people around the world.”