PATRICIA BARELA’S COMMUNITY-FOCUSED RETIREMENT We Have So Much to Give
“I really wanted to stay on.”
women of color in particular, that are perhaps most near and dear to her. “I’m very involved in politics,” she says. “It’s important to me that more women of color run for all kinds of public office. I also co-founded a group called Adelante Mujer, which advances Latina women’s causes. We’ve been so successful that groups in other states have mirrored our model. It’s amazing to see a message of empowerment spreading.” For Patricia, this constant drive to give back stems not from a sense of duty, but rather from the very fabric of her being. It’s who she is and what she does. “I’m so fortunate,” she says, “to be able to wake up every day and do what makes my heart sing. I have so many fabulous opportunities to help out in the community. I have no boss, no schedule. I don’t have to work seven days a week. Truly, I couldn’t be happier.” While Patricia’s path to fulfilment in retirement matches her own personal values, she does believe in two essential traits to make any retirement fulfilling. “First,” she says, “you have to keep moving, both in terms of physical fitness and intellectual activity. We have so much experience and so much to give. Second, you need to surround yourself with great people. In Mexican culture, we have a saying, ‘Dime con quien andas, y te diré quien eres.’ In other words, ‘Tell me who your friends are, and I’ll tell you who you are.’”
That’s how Patricia Barela begins her description of her decision to retire. It’s not hard to see why. She worked as the director for the Colorado division of the Small Business Administration. She loved her job and was making a positive impact. Retirement, while financially feasible, seemed professionally optional. “But after a while,” Patricia says, “it’s just time to leave. I had no idea what I wanted to do. All I knew was that it was time to start a new chapter in my life. There was definitely a transition period, but I was ready for what would come next.” Patricia may not have had a detailed plan for each day of her retirement, but she knew one thing would be a crucial part of it. “Giving back to the community has been baked into my DNA since birth,” Patricia says. “My mom and dad raised me to understand how blessed we were and to value philanthropy and community service.” Since her retirement, Patricia has served as a board member for more than a dozen organizations, including the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, the Denver Zoo, the Children’s Museum of Denver, and the Denver Art Museum.
While that lineup of heavy hitters would make anyone blush, it’s the work that Patricia does to advance the causes of women, and
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