Saturday, July 20, 2024

RETIRING PRESIDENT’S CHAT – June 2024

BY JAN PENTECOST - National President Grey Power NZ Federation INC.

As some members know, I resigned as the Grey Power NZ Federation president on 28 March this year. I did this with great regret and guilt for not seeing my term through. I believe that my reasons for resigning, although I had intended to nominate for another term, are valid. However, I hope I have not put too much pressure on the executive committee and the rest of the board. If I have, I apologise.

Firstly, I have resigned because I am exhausted. The thought of running another board meeting and then the AGM plus all the daily Federation chores is overwhelming.

Jacinda Ardern said when she resigned as Prime Minister, that she did not have enough left in the tank, and that she could no longer do justice to her job.

Although I would never compare myself with the former Prime Minister, I feel guilty for resigning at this time, but I am weighed down with the tasks I have been doing for Grey Power and certainly feel, going forward, that I am unable to provide the leadership this organisation needs.

A difficult term

It has been quite a difficult nearly four years for me as president because of Covid, the Counties Manukau situation which, I believe unjustly, called into question my reputation, conflict between board members, prejudice because of my gender plus, of course, the very heavy workload. This has meant that there have been times when I have not responded to emails and other communications and I regret and apologise for that.

My Grey Power presidency was inspired by three quotes:

Josh Axe said “Leadership is like a tree; in order to survive and bear the fruit of success you must have the deep roots of character, convictions, values, and purpose.” 

Unfortunately, my resilience and strength has been found wanting. I must accept that I was not as strong as I thought I was.

The next quote that has supported my enthusiasm for Grey Power is from Ralph Waldo Emerson who stated “Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”

It has particularly been my hope that the trail I might leave would lead to a more inclusive, democratic organisation with a better understanding of others’ points of view, and greater honesty, principled behaviour and so on. Judgement of any success here lies with Grey Power members.

And finally words from John C. Maxwell who declared: “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.”

I certainly believe, to a fair degree that I know, (have learnt) the way, I have really worked hard at going and showing the way and I am very willing, if desired by Grey Power, to impart any knowledge I have gained in my nearly 14 years on the Federation board, as secretary, advocacy chair, including the necessary research this job entailed, chair of various national advisory groups and president to others.

If I can help, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Despite my references to difficulties, these years have also been very rewarding. I have learnt so much in positive terms, about this organisation and older people, and the sterling work association committees do for Grey Power must be mentioned.

There are unending amounts of kindness within associations. The stories I have heard of services Grey Power members have provided for less fortunate people would fill a book. I have seen and heard about so many selfless acts by members helping others so please keep it up everyone.

And, a thank you for all the hospitality you have extended to me personally.
Secondly, but more importantly, as some of you know Tony, my husband, has grade three prostate cancer and although the seven month’s treatment appears to have been successful, he is now displaying some memory loss, which means I would not be able to attend board meetings because I need to be at home to look after him to ensure his safety. I must also be available to drive because it is unlikely that he will retain his driver’s licence.

I have to re-charge my batteries now for whatever the future holds for Tony and I.

Tony has been my absolute support for all our nearly 60 years of marriage, including my time on the Federation board. So it is my turn to help him now and do everything we can to slow the progression of his condition.

I sincerely thank you all for your membership of Grey Power NZ; the more members the organisation has the stronger its advocacy.

I thank all those who have sent me emails and cards since my resignation. I am so grateful and humbled by the understanding and empathy shown to us.

My apologies for not mentioning all the organisations Grey Power is involved with. But to you and to the many others who I have worked with during Grey Power advocacy/lobby efforts over the past twelve years, including politicians and their staff, the Office of Seniors, the Retirement Commission and other specific government agencies, unions such as Etu, PSA, the nurses organisation, the CTU and others, for example CAB, Age Concern and the Aged Care Association I thank you all for your support of Grey Power and your efforts to improve older peoples’ lives.

Lastly, but not the least, I thank all current and past board members for their dedication to the organisation and wish Grey Power all the best for the future.

Please take care everyone.
Jan Pentecost 

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