James was one of millions of older adults surviving on food stamps and struggling to find work before he heard of the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP).
Like many Americans, James saw his financial situation become increasingly insecure as he grew older.
“Then a friend suggested, ‘Why don’t you try East Side Neighborhood Services?’” James says.
Through SCSEP — a major program of the Older Americans Act and the only federal job training program focused exclusively on low-income older adults — East Side helps people like James develop their skills and update their resumes to achieve unsubsidized employment.
“It’s difficult to break the cycle of poverty, especially at an older age,” explains Susan McCauley, Chief Performance Officer at East Side. “But we want older adults to have work that reflects their wealth of experience.”
Through SCSEP, participants secure temporary, part-time employment at local community, faith-based, and public agencies, supporting these organizations as they carry out their missions.
James was placed at Brian Coyle Center, a location of Pillsbury United Communities in the heart of the Cedar Riverside neighborhood.
“He’s such a great employee. He does what he does with interest and passion,” says Amano Dube, Director of Brian Coyle Center.
For James, SCSEP provided much more than work: “They placed me where I could get more resources, like computer classes, on top of a job.”
And for Dube, SCSEP participants like James fill critical gaps in staffing. “Most of our work is done with help from senior aides,” he says. “We care for them, and they care for the community.”
In fact, James became so essential to Brian Coyle Center that Dube decided to hire him as a permanent, full-time employee when James completed his SCSEP training.
“SCSEP restores dignity because it removes older adults from isolation and makes them feel valued as people,” says Dube.
Kristine Martin, President of East Side Neighborhood Services, agrees: “What we’re trying to do is change the paradigm and break down the lens of aging. We want to change cultural patterns to support lifelong learning and engagement.”
For Martin, SCSEP exemplifies East Side’s mission to foster the development and well-being of individuals and families.
“SCSEP is a model of how — through lifelong learning and engagement — we can strengthen our community and support its well-being,” says Martin.