Finding employment after age 55 or 60 is not easy, but it can be done. The task is made somewhat easier by several public and private non-profit programs designed to help seniors who seek work.
One such program, named Over 60 Counseling and Employment Service - shortened in use to Over 60 - is operated by the Montgomery County Federation of Women's Clubs. This program directed by Gladys Sprinkle, has been in operation for 17 years, originally without outside funding. It recently has gotten portial support from the Office of Human Resources.
The major objective of Over 60 is to find jobs for older people seeking employment. During the quarter that ended March 31 this year, more than 200 applicants were placed in the Washington area. Employment service is rendered primarily to Montgomery County residents, but it also extended to District of Columbia citizens and is not really closed to anyone who seeks help. The Over 60 telephone number is 652-8072.
According to Sprinkle, about 75 per cent of the jobs filled are part-time, a situation that is usually acceptable to the older job hunter. Placements are made in most types of business and service organizations.
Over 60 requires job-seekers to file applications and schedule interviews. This requirement is intended to benefit both the business client and the job applicant. During the interview, Over 60 staff member try to arrange the best possible match between job requirements and the capabilities and interests of the applicants.
A good deal of counseling can take place during the interview. If, as has actually happened, a 57-year-old woman discusses her plans to prepare herself for a position in secondary education, she is informed of the difficulties and present limitations involved in that course of action. A realistic and feasible employment goal usually emerges from the counseling session.
The staff of Over 60 take some initiatives to get job openings into their files. One was of doing this is by broadcasting announcements; another is by giving talks to service clubs and business organizations.Sprinkle feels that any person who is motivated can make a worthwhile contribution. A totally deaf person has been placed, and so have former mental patients.
Office space for Over 60 is provided by the county; air announcement time is donated by broadcast organizations.
As an example of benefit from Over 60 service, Sprinkle cited a case of a 58-year-old man who was attempting to take care of himself and his 87-year-old mother. The job he found through Over 60 enabled him and his mother to make it without public assistance.
The need to supplement income and be independent is not the only motivation bringing applicants to Over 60. One man applied soon after retiring from a $40,000-plus position with sizeable retirement benefits. He was easily placed in a position utilizing his accountancy skills.
Besides direct employment service, Over 60 operates related specialized programs. One of these is the Senior Home Craftsman program in which retired men with minor home repair skills provide service to needy homeowners for an established fee.
Another specialized program provides a "good neighbor family aide" who gives personal care, offers companionship, prepares light meals, does shopping and other chores. Aides are given advance training for this work.
Over 60 has also developed a curriculum for retraining seniors in modern office procedures. The course is scheduled regularly by the county Adult Education Department.
An Over 60 service offered free of charge tot he entire community is the pre-retirement seminar scheduled twice yearly. Topics, discussed by persons knowledgeable in the field, include financial planning, second careers, living arrangements and psychological adjustment.
In summarizing the benefits derived from the program Sprinkle cites the following: jobs that need to be done, get done; persons who need supplementary income, earn it; individuals who are on public assistance can shed this dependency; participants, through involvement, can overcome loneliness and acquire a rekindled sense of worth.
Other employment services will be discussed in next week's Maryland Weekly.