Colonie’s 67-year-old George Tockmakis used to love downhill skiing, camping, fishing and The Hamptons on Long Island.
That was then.
“I put all that on the wayside,” he said.
In 1994, he went to help build an orphanage in India, and it changed his desires and focus forever.
Today, the retired inspector of heating, air conditioning and ventilation systems serves as the building chairman of the Berne-based International Accelerated Missions. When he hops on a plane, his primary baggage is a tool belt and a heart for cultures in need.
“We are not just into construction; we build relationships,” said George. “We come alongside people.”
George has been all around the world, and has seen the rubble of Haiti’s earthquake and the aftermath of Katrina. He has supported those fighting sex trafficking and has sponsored children in need.
As the leader of this practical ministry, he constantly reminds his teams to pay attention to the people they’ve come to serve.
“You can put down your tools for a moment and go talk to some of the nationals that are looking at you,” he said.
When it comes to the retirement years, George has a simple philosophy.
“The senior years can be some of the most productive because of our experience, wisdom and patience,” he said. “I’ve been on missions with people in their 70s. If God has given you the ability to only put up 10 bricks, then that’s a contribution. If you need to sit down and take a break, that’s O.K.
“I would tell seniors that you don’t have to sit around and wait. It would be a shame to stop using your knowledge and skills — whether that’s around the world or around the corner.”
One practical way someone can help from home is by sponsoring and getting to know a child (through correspondence) in a country where World Vision and other mission groups care for kids.
“When I was in Kenya,” George recalled, “I saw World Vision’s food distribution up close, and it was very effective.”
He may not get a tan in The Hamptons, but he is putting a lot of sunshine in the lives of so many and he feels that everybody has something to give — especially seniors.
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