Messenger photo by Dianne Garrett
Attending the May 2 grand opening of the AARP Senior Community Service Employment Program office in Whitehall are, from left, employees Hellen Corder and Diana Abdel-aal; Helen Hall, transit operations coordinator representing Newark Mayor Bob Diebold; Brenda Newton, WorkSearch Information; Reynoldsburg Mayor Brad McCloud; Whitehall Mayor John Wolfe; Jan Aselin, Project Director AARP Foundation WorkSearch-Whitehall; Robert Cole, Project Director, AARP Foundation WorkSearch-Columbus; and employees Maria McCoy, Connie Dixon, and John Austin, Thelma Smith, Terry Gist, Cora Taylor-Wallace, Selena Bradley, and Patricia Fletcher.
Job-seekers age 55 and older have someone on their side to help open doors to a higher income and independence that comes through employment.
On May 2 the AARP Senior Community Service Employment Program opened in Whitehall at 5320 E. Main Street, Suite 600.
WorkSearch is an AARP-affiliated charity operating under a federal grant to assist older workers living on low incomes with their job search.
This funding provides the ability to provide temporary on-the-job experience and training for disadvantaged and financially eligible individuals 55 and older while in a work/training assignment.
Project Director Jan Aselin is excited about locating to Whitehall.
Aselin’s office will cover Bexley, Whitehall, Reynoldsburg, east Columbus, Pataskala and Newark. She is hoping to get all mayors in each city involved.
She noted that whenever a client gets a job, her staff gathers to celebrate with a lot of hand clapping and cheering. Everyone is involved in the process and shares in the joy.
"Follow your bliss and doors will open for you where you never knew there were doors," is a quote by Joseph Campbell, that the director offers as encouragement to the foundation’s clients.
Her eight employees are in the program, and all are working for a common goal – to help others like themselves find employment.
They are placed with "participants" or "host agencies" for training.
Lifecare Alliance, Columbus Urban League and the King Arts Complex are examples of host agencies. They teach basic structures of a business environment, self-discipline, customer service and office procedure to prepare the client for a job.
After a WorkSearch skills test and assessment, they can be placed in a job. If they need special training, such as nursing, there is funding provided to pay for the school, according to Aselin.
Clients are paid by the foundation during training. Aselin gave an example that if a new business has opened and has a position, they ask the foundation to try a person in the job. The company pays the employee, which is reimbursed by the foundation.
It gives the employer an opportunity to see if that person will work out in that position, and put them into the workforce if it is a good fit.
"It’s a great situation for an employer to try them out, and not have to pay to sample the work," offered Aselin.
Individuals are usually in the program for six months to a year until the skill need is met. She noted that some need less help, and are placed in a job within weeks, especially if is a job that maybe they are familiar with from past experiences.
"We tailor the need to fit an individual. One size does not fit all," Aselin said.
They serve those in the most need first, such as veterans, and people who have barriers like those who are homeless, those who do not have a good work history, and those who have trouble getting into the workplace. Those mandates are established by the government.
About 25 percent end up with full time work, and 75 percent with part-time positions. The majority of those in the program are women.
The bottom line is to get people off of welfare so they can become producers and a part of the economic growth of their communities.
Meeting a need
More than six million older Americans suffer economic hardships and one-third of Americans over age 65 have incomes of less than $10,000 per year. AARP Foundation WorkSearch enables people to live better lives and stay healthy and independent longer.
Fifty years ago, retired educator Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus founded AARP because she believed everyone should have the chance to age with independence and dignity.
The retired teacher and principal would periodically check on her teachers who had retired. One day she went to an address of one of those friends, only to find out she was living in a storage shed behind a house.
An outraged Andrus realized the teacher had no pension, no insurance, and could not afford suitable housing. She went to community and business leaders, and together they devised an insurance plan, now known as AARP.
There are now 40 million members world-wide.
For information on WorkSearch assistance, call 322-0600.