Posted on 14 December 2012
By Mark Miller
On September 11, 2001, Lorraine Decker had it made. She and her husband Ken had a lucrative Houston financial planning practice specializing in retirement seminars all over the world for corporate employees. That day, they were waiting for a flight to New Orleans at the Newark airport when the first plane hit the twin towers in New York City.
With all air traffic grounded, the Deckers managed to rent a car to drive home to Houston. “We had the time to slow down and reflect on our priorities and the future of the nation, and we were feeling a profound need to help recreate the future,” she recalls.
That feeling took Decker on a decade-long journey, ultimately transforming her work from advising the affluent to running Skills 4 Living, a non-profit organization focused on helping working poor households boost their income and improve their money management skills.
Lorraine Decker’s work was recognized this month with a Purpose Prize — the $100,000 award given annually by Encore.org to recognize outstanding social entrepreneurship and innovation — the Oscars for career innovation over age 60.
This year’s other Purpose Prize winners include a pro-bono lawyer who teaches other lawyers how to protect homeowners from unfair mortgage lending practices; a former toy store owner who has created innovative ways for people to help Massachusetts children in foster care; a former prison inmate who opened her home to women recently released from jail and now leads five transitional residences in Los Angeles; and an engineer who helps villagers in India collect and store rain for safe drinking water.