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"The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" Inspires Community Service Contest

Boomers 50 and over can win a $5,000 grant for pet projects

By Janet Oh and

The hit film The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is about adventure, love and purpose in the second half of life. Starring Judi Dench, it follows a group of British retirees who travel to India and find new life instead of old age. (Next Avenue reviewer Leah Rozen loved it, as did Next Avenue Living & Learning editor Suzanne Gerber.)

But you don’t have to see the movie to enter the contest it inspired, for a chance to win $5,000.

Marigold Ideas for Good Contest

Participant Media, with and Road Scholar, is sponsoring the Marigold Ideas for Good Contest for people over 50 with great ideas for improving the quality of life in local communities.

Through October, Participant Media — with help from the voting public and — will award five monthly grants of $5,000. One grand prize winner each month will also take a Road Scholar trip worth up to $5,000.

(MORE: Career Shift: My Nonprofit Experience as an Encore Fellow)

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a re-coming-of-age movie,” says Marc Freedman, founder and CEO of, a nonprofit that aims to engage millions of boomers in “encore careers” that combine personal meaning, continued income and social impact. “We’re pleased to help judge a contest that provides people with a chance to do more than just dream about what they’d really like to do in their encore years.”

The Contest's First Winners

The contest’s first grand-prize winner, Deborah Greymoon, a nurse and midwife in Cascade, Colo., plans to use her $5,000 award to help make childbirth safer in rural India by training clinicians and midwives there. She’ll call on the connections she made while volunteering at an Indian maternity hospital in 2007 and travel free, thanks to the trip provided by Road Scholar.


This month's four other winners:

  • Kathleen Braico of Queensbury, N.Y., a retired pediatrician who hopes to develop a local summer service program for teens too old for day camp and too young for work. She wants the program to be managed and directed by the students involved, allowing them to choose their own community service projects.
  • Charlene Turner Johnson of Detroit, a minister who envisions turning abandoned and foreclosed houses in Detroit’s Highland Park community into housing for homeless veterans and their families.
  • Gary Oppenheimer of Newfoundland, N.J., the founder and executive director of the nonprofit, who wants to make sure “no food is left behind” by connecting home and community gardeners with local food pantries to distribute fresh produce to families in need.
  • Stan Weston of St. Joseph, Mo., a retired teacher, who intends to build a local playground that he calls a “Tree House for Everyone,” including people who use wheelchairs and walkers.

To learn more about the winners and their projects, go to the site. For details about the Marigold Ideas for Good Contest and entry rules, visit the Take Part site.

Janet Oh is a 2018 Next Avenue Influencer in Aging and director of the Gen2Gen Encore Prize. Read More
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