“You are never too old (or too young) to take part in activities that can enrich your physical, mental and emotional well-being.”
~Administration for Community Living
“Engage at Every Age” is the 2018 theme for Older Americans month and for two older Americans, it was the right time to reinvent themselves. Unemployed and in her 50s, Linda Laucus felt as though she didn’t have much to offer anymore. She had low self-esteem and started discounting her self-worth. Although she has an education, she felt her skills weren’t good enough and so she found herself passing up jobs for which she was technically qualified.
Tom, who had worked for 32 years (including 24 years as a traditional member of the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserves) lost his full-time job in 2015 and depleted his retirement savings. At 55 years old, Tom was unemployed for the first time in his life and wasn’t sure what to do next. After unsuccessfully looking for work for six months, he sought help.
Linda and Tom went to the Pima County One-Stop and learned about the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP), also known as the Mature Workers Program. Funded by the DES Division of Aging and Adult Services, this program provides training to low-income individuals over the age of 55 with useful, part-time, work-based training opportunities through community service activities.
SCSEP Workforce Development Specialist for Mature Workers, Gia Kaso, encouraged Linda and Tom to take a four-day class before enrolling in the program. The class, “Identifying Your Skills Seminar for the Mature Worker,” allows participants the opportunity to discuss the stress of unemployment and teaches them how to identify skills and accomplishments relevant to today’s job market. There they learn strategies to cope with age discrimination, disability and other common barriers to employment.
“It was a relief to be able to admit our fears out loud,” said Linda, who immediately felt better when she found out everyone in the class shared her concerns. “My confidence is soaring and my life is rapidly getting better, especially thanks to Gia and this program.”
After the seminar, Tom began his first work assignment through SCSEP with the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona, later transferring to Interfaith Community Services. Working 20 hours a week, he learned new and valuable skills to help him in today’s work environment, while also actively looking for full-time employment. The workshops and monthly SCSEP meetings further helped Tom develop his skills.
Although Tom accepted a full-time position with the Pima County Regional Wastewater Reclamation Department in June 2017, he remains an advocate of the program.
Linda recently accepted a job at Veteran’s Affairs Health Services. Her first day is May 14.
For more information on the Mature Worker Program, please visit the DES website. Questions regarding the Identifying Your Skills Seminar for the Mature Worker class can be directed to Gia Kaso at Gia.Kaso@Pima.gov.
By Isabella Neal