SCORE volunteer of the year Featured

9:42am EDT July 22, 2002

Chet Shoop spent his working life with manufacturing companies as an industrial engineer.

And he spent the last 10 years of his career helping move companies to new locations, mainly for Emco-Wheaton Ltd. But when it came time for him to retire in 1990, he says he just couldn’t really do it.

“I’m too young at heart,” says Shoop, an Erie resident. “ I didn’t want to quit working.”

So after a year of post-retirement consulting on his own, he came across SCORE, an organization about which he knew little. It changed his whole outlook on business and life.

In 1991, he joined the Erie chapter of the Service Corps of Retired Executives and has become so involved that he is now vice-chairman of the chapter. Last year, he was honored for his volunteer efforts by the American Institute of Public Service at the 1999 National Jefferson Awards Celebration of Service to America, held in Washington, D.C.

Not bad for a 75-year-old who continues to put in roughly 30 hours of counseling time each week.

Shoop points to his work with aspiring entrepreneurs, as well as welfare recipients hoping to start businesses to break out of public assistance, as among his greatest achievements with the volunteer business program. He also says he has been helping more and more nonprofit agencies establish business-oriented practices in this age of shrinking funding for such programs.

“It’s about helping those who need a helping hand,” Shoop says of his efforts.

But it’s also about staying young and on top of continuous changes, particularly those driven by new technology.

“I’ve seen too many people stop [when they retire], and that’s it,” he says. “The world is changing so fast, and we’re going to be left behind.”

But as Shoop adds, “There is a wise old motto that says, ‘The essence of progress is change.’”

And his solution for keeping up: SCORE, of course.

Daniel Bates