Redefining Retirement with Dianne Yonkers

Redefining Retirement

As a school psychologist and special education administrator with 35 years of experience mostly on the West Side, Dianne Yonkers knows better than most the difficulty that life transitions can cause. She has helped countless students transition from elementary to high school and beyond, and well understood the importance of planning and organizing her post-retirement life.

A 2006 retiree, she knew that after a busy career, she wouldn’t be happy with a leisurely retirement. Instead, she has made a second career out of volunteer and community service work. She currently holds a position as a Director at the Retired Teachers Association of Chicago, volunteers at West Side high school and at her church. She is an officer in her Delta Kappa Gamma chapter and recently has become active in Exodus World Services, an organization that helps refugees make the transition from their native lands to the USA.

“Exodus works with other agencies and helps fill in the gaps in the transition period for new refugees,” she explains. “Exodus finds and furnishes apartments for refugees and provide six months’ worth of household goods. In addition, Exodus volunteers serve as a social safety net, helping refugees learn what it means to be an American. We help get their children enrolled in schools, find doctors, provide practice speaking English, and provide support and networking to help the new Americans navigate the transition to an entirely different culture. We help families understand what it really means to pursue the American Dream.”

Her busy schedule and activities have meant that the years have flown by, and she can hardly believe it’s been more than a decade since her retirement, but she has no plans for slowing down. “Working with the kids in schools and volunteering keeps me young,” she explains. “I’m lucky to have this time to give back and stay active. I’ve been lucky to replace my full-time job with fulfilling work that has kept me active in my community. I intend to make the most of these years.”

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