On this page you'll find the testimonials of former participants of the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP). If you would like to share your story so that it can be posted on this page, please click here.
Greta E., Age 60
When Chicago native Greta Ellis packed up her belongings and drove to Las Vegas, she thought a job was waiting – but it fell through. Ellis was forced to sell everything just to have enough money to buy gas for the long trip back. On her way home, she opted to stay in the Madison area, where she had friends.
With low-employment skills, she worked at several jobs including janitorial and factory work. A job with Division of Vocational Rehabilitation proved to be very rewarding but after six months, the position was eliminated and Ellis was right back where she started. Desperate to find work, she struggled to make ends meet. After missing two rent payments, she was evicted from her apartment and forced to find shelter with a friend. She was registered with Job Center, but there were no jobs to be found.
“I found out about Experience Works and the Senior Community Service Employment Program while riding the bus,” says Ellis. “I had nothing but the clothes on my back when I enrolled in the program. It was my last hope.”
She was thrilled to begin a paid community service assignment with the Salvation Army of Dane County, where she received training as a janitor/maintenance helper. Building on transferrable skills, she began to blossom and her confidence grew. The money she earned through SCSEP put her back on the path of self-sufficiency.
Whatever the task - cleaning rooms, organizing tables, general maintenance - Ellis embraced every opportunity to learn. Her positive attitude and work ethic caught the attention of her supervisor and she was asked to also assist in the laundry department.
When a full-time position opened up in the laundry department, Ellis had the confidence to apply for the job and was hired. Now working 28 hours each week, making $11.25 an hour, she couldn’t be happier. Aside from her laundry room duties, she also interacts with the ladies and children staying at the shelter. Offering a friendly smile, she is available to listen and let them know someone cares.
Ponce, Puerto Rico
After working as an industrial machinery technician for 30 years with Hanes, Jose E. Santiago Perez, Jr. lost his job when the company ceased operations in 2006. Devastated, he tried to find work, as he struggled to support his family of five on less than $1,400 a month from unemployment and his wife’s disability benefits.
For nearly two years, he applied for numerous jobs with government and private agencies but had no luck finding employment. With the weight of the world on his shoulders, Perez was referred to Experience Works. Through the Senior Community Service Employment Program, he was assigned to the Municipality of Ponce where he began training in janitorial and custodial work at Centro Perlesia Cerebral.
Perez also attended Experience Works Job Clubs to refresh his job seeking skills. The boost helped him land an interview for a security position with Genesis Security Services. Through supportive services, Experience Works also helped arrange transportation to the interview and paid for the mandatory drug screening test.
Success was sweet when Perez was hired for a full-time job, with full benefits. “I couldn’t have found this job without the help of the Senior Community Service Employment Program,” says Perez. “I now have peace of mind and security for my family.”
Marsha Klindworth, age 74
Garrison, North Dakota
It’s not often that someone can say she found their dream job at 74. Marsha Klindworth found that her love of reading and working with young people created a perfect work situation. Klindworth retired from a position in the dietary industry. However, she was determined to stay active. Klindworth enrolled in the Senior Community Service Employment Program as a way to learn something new, and augment her income, which had become limited.
Klindworth was assigned to be a library trainee at Garrison Public Schools. Her supervisor, Librarian Debra Youngs, said Klindworth was a great help to the schools on many fronts. Along with her enthusiasm, she had been an invaluable resource for students looking for book recommendations. “She has been an advocate for reading,” said Youngs, who praised the good rapport Klindworth had with faculty and students.
Klindworth would help with displays and worked with the library cataloging system as the school moved to automation. She was also trained in book repair, which is something she found rewarding. “When I mend books I’m saving them for another child to read,” said Klindworth.
Klindworth was trained to check out books using the computer system. Some of the challenges, such as learning the Dewey Decimal System, were more daunting. “The Dewey Decimal System is something to learn. It’s not like canned vegetables in the pantry,” said Klindworth. She said she has picked up a great deal about it and is still learning.
The school system also was impressed with Klindworth’s work and dedication after an elementary school fire. The damage forced the elementary school library to close. The school had to borrow books from other sources, and Klindworth was extremely helpful in cataloging outside books into the library’s system. During the summer, she also assisted getting the library ready to reopen in the fall.
Klindworth’s work, over the course of her assignment, did not go unnoticed. She was hired in her position and she couldn’t be more thrilled. “It’s taken some time, but I’ve found my dream job,” she said.
Senior Community Service
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