Three months after an early retirement at age 55, John Doutch woke up and thought 'what am I going to do today?'
Despite what he believed was a 'fantastic retirement plan', going from being a workaholic to leading a more relaxed lifestyle was a difficult transition.
That very day either fate or coincidence played out, when John received a newsletter from the City of Casey that included an article about ageing positively, and details of an upcoming workshop.
'It was kind of an omen. I hadn't heard of ageing positively or any of that sort of stuff, but I picked up the phone to see whether I could go to the session – and there was one place left,' John says.
The workshop aroused his interest in COTA, the Council of the Ageing, which promotes and improves the wellbeing of older Australians through a range of initiatives.
Consequently, John and a like-minded friend he met during the workshop, Bernie, signed up to the organisation.
That all happened in 2004 and the rest, as they say, is history.
John's involvement with COTA has since been extensive and his passion for advancing the issues of older people has never waned.
The Vietnam veteran is a peer educator, facilitating sessions for groups of over 50s and multicultural groups on subjects including ageing positively, memory, depression and managing health.
He is a member of the City of Casey Ageing Positively Reference Group, and has led the 'Challenging Ageing' program. He has also established Men's Discussion Groups for over 50s across a range of municipalities in Victoria.
His dedication to inspiring, educating and equipping older residents within his municipality to live positive and active lives saw him take out the City of Casey Senior Citizens Award last year.
John jokingly questions whether awarding a 'senior citizens' award to a man of just 64 is appropriate.
'They'll have to give me the platinum award in 20 years time,' he says. And John expects to still be going strong years after that, when he turns 100 and gets an e-mail from the Queen.
John sees volunteering as a part of ageing positively. 'It's important to contribute to the community that has contributed to you throughout your life,' he says.
'And if there's anything else you do, that should be the COTA challenging ageing program which has made a difference to so many people ageing confidently and in a positive sense,' John says shamelessly plugging the organisation he works for. After all, it did change his life.
COTA is Australia's leading seniors' organisation, with individual members and seniors organisation members in all States and Territories.
To find out more about COTA in Victoria visit their website at www.cotavic.org.au