A teacher stands in front of you; a coach stands behind you; a mentor stands beside you.
Mentorship, and the above interpretation, was on Nick Taras’ mind as he prepared to retire. His more-than-40-year career in food distribution took him from cleaning floors at his grandfather’s business to running Nashville’s SYSCO branch. As he moved toward his next chapter, he sought to align his passion for food service with giving back to the community.
Teaming up with SCORE, which pairs business mentors with entrepreneurs and small businesses, Nick began “walking beside” his mentees on their journeys to business success. He watches their awareness and understanding develop while working collaboratively to move toward their goals.
“Certain mentees stand out to me for different reasons,” said Nick. “Not because they built monster companies, but because they built their awareness, understood the process and connected with customers. I’ve worked with immigrants launching businesses while speaking English as a second language, individuals trying to reinvent themselves with second or third careers, mentees who saved headaches and money by realizing a new business idea wasn’t the right fit, co-mentor partnerships – each opportunity has been unique.”
“Nick has a natural way of relating to clients at all levels and helping them reach pragmatic business decisions,” said Lisa O’Dell, a senior Nashville SCORE mentor. “His can-do and upbeat attitude engages clients and helps keep them positive, even when working through the most difficult issues.”
Navigating the transition to retirement can be daunting. Volunteering can serve as an ideal bridge, allowing individuals to use and build professional skills while enjoying a flexible schedule and the satisfaction of helping others.
“Since I’ve gotten into the retirement world, it’s amazing how many of my friends who are thinking about retirement want to engage in conversation about it,” said Nick. “I was fortunate to have people in my life who provided examples I could learn from. This made for a great transition – after planning my exit strategy for two years, I had options ready to go.”
For those considering the transition to retirement, long-term volunteering opportunities can help individuals find their passion in service. By leveraging professional experience or building new skills while serving the community, volunteers build unmatched capacity for community organizations.
SCORE fosters vibrant small business communities through mentoring and education. The Nashville chapter serves the 30 counties that comprise Middle Tennessee, providing workshops and one-on-one mentoring.