Tom McCarter: Using His Talents to Serve Community

A veteran in the men’s circle, Tom McCarter of the San Diego Men’s Division has taken on many jobs within Mentor Discover Inspire. Inspired by service, he is presently the division MTP manager and member of the Commitment Team for the Expansion Initiative. He also volunteers in his community, constantly looking to make a difference. This interview was facilitated by Michael Fowlkes of the SD Men’s Division.

Angie and Tom (From L to R)

1. What am I building?

Right now, I am building a fulfilling life in retirement. I’m on the lookout for opportunities to exercise my higher purpose which I received at my Legacy Discovery: to utilize my talents to make a difference in my community. At the same time, I have been happily married for 16 years, and I am putting in the work to keep it happy. My wife knows I need to get out in the world, and she is happy turning our new house into a home. She manages the relationship, and I do what I can to make her feel secure and special and that her time is well spent. So I have a lot going on. And I also have down time, which I relish. I enjoy sitting in the backyard and just looking at all we have accomplished there. It is a good reminder of the strength of our relationship.

2. How am I doing it?

I have several activities happening simultaneously. My wife, Alice, and I purchased a new house last year. We moved out of the Bay Area and down to San Diego County. Alice dove right in and managed all the remodeling and décor. I offer to assist if needed, but she usually takes care of everything herself.

One thing we do enjoy doing together is building rock and succulent displays. Our property is 10,000 square feet, so we have a lot of space to fill. We enjoy shopping for plants, For that matter, we both enjoy shopping. Part of keeping the magic going. We belong to two local garden clubs. One is a general garden club and the other focusses exclusively on cactus and succulents. I am now both vice president and the community outreach chairperson for the first one. I hire all the speakers for the meetings and participate on the board meetings. I am also a docent at the Museum of Making Music, which is close by. Anyone who knows me knows I am passionate about music. I still collect records and CDs. Alice and I have attended nine concerts so far this year. The MOMM is a perfect fit for me, as well as a learning opportunity. 

I have a new men’s team and am a member of the San Diego Men’s Division. This is my 5th division and maybe my 15th men’s team since I joined in 1994. Currently, I am working with the Commitment Team on the Expansion Program, assigning men to teams when they complete the Online Introductory Program. Then I pick them up again, since I am also managing the Membership Training Program for the division. I also stepped up to PTM the Legacy Discovery here, but we didn’t enroll enough men. Soon we will be launching a community service event and I am hoping to enroll my team to work together as a team to make the event a success. For the first year we were here, I was also volunteering with a nonprofit called Solutions for Change, which takes homeless families off the street, houses them, and gets them back on their feet. I am hoping to be able to do something else with them in the future or find something similar.

3. Who is this impacting?

My commitment to my marriage is impacting my wife. She feels secure that I’m not going anywhere and can plan for our future together. The garden club members appreciate what I bring to make the club work. Based on the work I have done with the men over the years on community service events, I know the larger community is willing to support our efforts, if we ask. I am not afraid to ask. For instance, I got all the food and coffee donated for the volunteers at our spring sale and show in May. I have brought in a diverse group of speakers to address various aspects of gardening. I am working to broaden the diversity of our membership, as well, in my community outreach position. The museum staff is really stretched, so they appreciate my participation and I think the people coming to the museum appreciate my unique spin on the instruments they are viewing. Getting men started on the journey of conquering their barriers and living a fulfilled life is a real privilege for me. I have received so much from my participation in MDI and with the Sterling Institute of Relationships.

My success, my marriage, and the man I have become today are a direct result of my time in MDI. I love to give it away. The men on my core team are a little intimidated, perhaps, because they are not willing to do the work I have done to build a team. I would like to think they are inspired.

4. What skills did I receive from MDI? 

First of all, I need to credit my time in the Sterling Men’s Divisions. That’s where I got my tenacity, to play full out, do whatever it takes to get the job done, and lead with a big context. The Sterling days were completely unreasonable and I doubt if many of the men in my current division would have made it. I thrived. My Men’s Weekend was the turning point in my life, and my participation following that continually built on that experience. I was led and mentored by great men and we accomplished a lot. We also worked side by side with the women and it is sad that we no longer have that opportunity.

I learned a LOT about relationships, what works and what doesn’t, which still serves me in my marriage today. When I was initially hired by the Packard Foundation, I was told I would be a temp for a month or two until they found the right people. I ended up doing the work of two people by myself for two months. Every day was like doing production on the Men’s Weekend, but I loved it. And people appreciated my attitude. My boss hired a woman to be my senior who was 20 years younger than me, and she told me I would be hired if we could get along. Because of my experience working with the Family of Women, I knew what I had to do, and I was hired. I worked there for 20 years.

My MDI years just built on my Sterling years. I took on Regional and International managerial positions. I built one international program from the bottom up. I was inducted into the Hall of Honor. I led massive community service projects. I organized the first men’s convention in Vegas. That same year, I was also the International Membership Manager for MDI, as well as the president of the local chapter of the Green Meetings Industry Council, while working full time and staying happily married. In other years, I got to be XO to two inspiring Regional Coordinators. I got to be a point team leader. I served on the Board. I’ve learned some hard lessons along the way about holding men accountable and overcommitting.

That’s why I stay involved, to keep learning and passing on my wisdom. I think I have found the right balance between commitment, marriage, and relaxation. Overall, life is good.

2 thoughts on “Tom McCarter: Using His Talents to Serve Community”

  1. We probably bumped into each other here or there over the years. Did my weekend in Massachusetts September of 94. I was the DC of mountain men, our last Sterling division then we merged with a Massachusetts team and became The Big dig, which I also became a DC of. Held many positions over the years and registered over 30 men, in their seats! Also about a dozen family members including wives and sisters. I don’t use email

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