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Senior Citizens Resources Guide

Experience works: Program offers part time jobs for seniors over 55

By Lynda Jensen

Seniors looking for part-time work to help pay for the rising cost of living might consider Experience Works.

Experience Works is a national, non-profit organization that provides training and employment services for people over 55 years with low incomes.

"It's an excellent program," commented Marion Snare of Buffalo, who is a field operations assistant for Experience Works in Wright County.

What does it do?

The program matches employers with seniors for jobs up to 22 hours per week, said Luella Prehn, field operations assistant for the organization in McLeod County.

In fact, for non-profit organizations such as nursing homes, the program is great because the program pays for the seniors' wages, Prehn said.

For example, the wages of a senior employed at a medical facility would be paid for by the program, Prehn said.

In return, a donation is asked to keep the program funded, she said.

Local connections

There are many seniors sprinkled throughout the local area who are employed through Experience Works.

One such person is Gladys Nelson, who is employed at the Howard Lake Good Samaritan Home.

Another is Elaine Roepke, who works at the Cokato Manor nursing facility in Cokato.

Sister Mary Ellen McRaith of Winsted is currently enrolled in the program, since she wishes to return to nursing, Prehn said.

Others are employed at the Hutchinson senior center, McLeod County Museum, Glencoe nursing facility, McLeod food shelf, and Habitat for Humanity in Hutchinson, Prehn said.

Name change

Until last year, Experience Works was called Green Thumb, a name given to it in 1965.

At that time, Lady Bird Johnson formed Green Thumb as part of her "Beautify America" program.

The group was composed of retired farmers who needed additional income, using their "green thumbs" to improve parks and highways.

The program is traditionally used heavily in rural areas.

Other services include:

Senior Community Service Employment Program

The largest program offered by Experience Works is the Senior Community Service Employment Program.

This program, funded under Title V of the Older Americans Act, enables us to help thousands of low-income individuals, age 55 and older, throughout the United States.

Through this program, job-ready seniors are placed directly into employment, while other seniors benefit from training, counseling, and community service assignments at non-profit organizations and public agencies in their communities, prior to transitioning into the workforce.

Participants gain new skills and experience that help them secure meaningful employment and provide valuable services to their host agencies and communities.

Training Services

Continuous learning, keeping one's skills current and building new skills, is more important than ever in today's workforce.

Experience Works offers a wide variety of technology-training services including self-paced computer training that may involve classrooms, computer labs, packaged training, or training via the Internet.

Experience Works also offers a number of job-related training programs that include industry-specific programs for areas such as home health care, agriculture, security, customer service, and small-business development.

Last year, 1,181 Minnesota seniors participated in the program, earning $3,423,124. This provided 636,268 hours of community service as well.

Experience Works reaches more than 125,000 seniors each year in the 50 states and Puerto Rico.

Experience Works operates the Senior Community Service Employment Program under Title V of the Older Americans Act.

Another related program is the Internet web site, which allows senior citizens to sell arts and crafts over the Internet.

There are about 15,000 different crafts available from 1,500 seniors who do homemade quilts, calligraphy, carvings, painting, pressed flowers, pottery and many other items. n

Senior Citizens Guide
Published 2003

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