It is never too late to pursue a dream. Many seniors are proving this statement to be true by participating in Goodwill’s Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP). SCSEP is funded by the U.S. Department of Labor. Goodwill and many other organizations participate in the program to help seniors gain valuable work experience. SCSEP provides opportunities for seniors to take part in paid job training at a variety of host agencies. The job training helps reintroduce Hoosiers age 55 and up into the workforce while opening doors for potential careers.
Kris Green, SCSEP Program Coordinator, has worked with the program for five years and stresses the importance of its existence.
“SCSEP is the only employment program offered by the Department of Labor specifically for senior citizens. Over 25 million people age 60+ are financially insecure -- living at or below 250% of the federal poverty level,” Kris said. “The program gives people hope -- hope that they will find fulfilling employment, hope that they will improve their financial situation, and hope that they will be able to use the knowledge, skills, and abilities they already have even as they learn new things.”
A number of seniors have found full-time employment at Goodwill of Central & Southern Indiana through their time in SCSEP. Jo Anne Young is one of them. In the past, Jo worked in the administrative field. Her work was put on hold after she became a caregiver for her parents and her sister. Jo decided to move to the Indianapolis area at the invitation of her former relative to start over after her loved ones passed away. She heard about SCSEP through word of mouth. Shortly after being accepted, she was offered a position as Goodwill’s corporate receptionist. Now serving as a SCSEP Guide, Jo is helping other program participants succeed. She credits the program for helping her realize that she and other seniors are still valuable.
“There is always something seniors can do. We are not ready for a rocking chair,” Jo Anne said. “I’m so grateful to the program for giving me a second chance at what I’m calling the ‘second act’ of my life.”
Vivian Williams has a similar story. She moved to Indiana to care for her grandmother who was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. After her grandmother passed away, Vivian started working with the employment agency at Horizon House, a day shelter that provides services to those experiencing homelessness. SCSEP was brought up, and she was encouraged to apply. Vivian completed her job training at Eskenazi Health and is now serving as the corporate receptionist. Settled into her new position, Vivian is looking forward to the future. She would like to go back to school, hoping to eventually counsel middle school students or those struggling with drug and alcohol addiction.
“My biggest inspiration was my SCSEP Guide,” Vivian said. “She saw more in me than I saw in myself at the time.”
Donna Franklin became a SCSEP participant in 2009 after seeking employment through the Washington Township Trustee’s office. Donna was searching for a new career path after earning her bachelor’s degree in elementary education and working in business administration for some time. She completed her job training and was offered a full-time position in Goodwill’s payroll department. Donna is very happy with the current state of SCSEP. She appreciates the diversity amongst the Guides as well as the effort put forth into helping seniors.
"Guides really care about the participants,” Donna said. “I can see the effectiveness of how the participants respond to the guides.”
Kenton Owen Jr. works for Goodwill’s TalentSource™ team. After serving in the Navy and working several warehouse jobs, he approached SCSEP in search of a new beginning. Kenton completed his training at Heritage Place, a senior center that provides in-home and on-site services for seniors. Kenton credits his job training for helping him spiritually. During his training, he was able to build lasting relationships with people such as his former supervisor. Kenton is grateful for his experience and is willing to encourage other seniors to apply, stressing that they shouldn’t let the idea of working with technology scare them away.
“Embrace the new stuff because you never know what you might have fun with,” Kenton remarked.
Mary Jones worked in management for the state of Indiana for twenty years. She stepped out of the workforce for 12 years because of her disability. Mary heard about SCSEP from a past participant who gave her a glowing recommendation. She was called within a month of applying. She completed her job training at one outside host agency and she had the opportunity to train in three different departments at Goodwill. Shortly after finishing her time at her last host agency she was offered a position with the retail department and is now a retail administrative assistant.
“I could not have asked for a better set of experiences,” Mary said.
Aileen Mercer, SCSEP Employment and Readiness Guide, has worked with the program for seven years. In that time, Aileen has witnessed the impact SCSEP has made on the community.
“SCSEP benefits our community by helping older Americans re-engage through job-related activities and employment,” Aileen stated. “Most of our participants start their SCSEP journeys after feeling overwhelmed by their own life’s events. Many lack self-confidence in their abilities to become employed again, and SCSEP provides a purpose and a plan.”
There are currently 242 active participants in the program. Goodwill plans to continually welcome seniors to increase that number while creating new career opportunities. For more information, please visit the Employment Services page at Goodwill’s website.