Goodwill is celebrating Older Americans Month and recognizing the contributions older workers (ages 55 and up) make both inside and outside the workforce. At a time when employers need to build resilience, older workers can play a critical role. They bring experience, reliability and perspective to every workplace setting.

One such individual is Sandra Campbell, who came to Goodwill Industries of Kentucky seeking employment opportunities. Sandra was born with a disability, and she both lives with and supports her aging mother. Sandra has been successful helping her mother live independently by maintaining the basic chores of their home and maintaining a structured environment. Over time, however, Sandra has continued to strive for her own independence and financial stability and found she needed assistance to earn employment.

Knowing that employment training and job placement assistance would help in her quest to obtain steady employment, Sandra made the decision to answer an ad in the newspaper. In March 2021, she enrolled in the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) at Goodwill Industries of Kentucky. SCSEP is a government-funded workforce development program designed to provide older adults an opportunity to create individualized employment plans and obtain on-the-job training through community service to local organizations for up to four years.

“SCSEP and Goodwill gave me a start and an opportunity to move forward from where I was,” Sandra says. “They, in turn, believed in me and helped me maintain my employment.”

While Sandra worked with her training organization, she simultaneously developed a professional résumé, learned basic computer skills and improved her soft skills. In July of 2021, only four short months after enrolling in SCSEP, Sandra was hired by the Goodwill store in Radcliff. At Goodwill, she can be found enthusiastically greeting customers, processing customer payments, hanging clothes and sorting donations. She is extremely grateful to SCSEP for helping her earn the skills she needed to find a job that will provide the financial stability she sought.

Sandra offers the following advice to potential SCSEP participants: “Get in there and enjoy yourself and relax. Those young people treat you just like any other employee. Get out [and start training]. You would be so surprised about what going back to the workforce does.”

“Goodwill stores and SCSEP have a long history of partnering to help the community members ages 55 and older, long before Goodwill Career Services administered the program,” said Kimberly Culliton, Goodwill career coach. “The Radcliff store has an amazing manager, Priscilla Cleaver, who goes above and beyond to help everyone thrive, SCSEP participants and all others from staff to customers. She has continued to offer the opportunity of advancement, and I’m more than proud to say former SCSEP participant, Sandra Campbell, took full advantage of that opportunity and is now a valuable team member at the Goodwill store in Radcliff.”

If you are an older job seeker looking for help with training or paid work experience, contact your local SCSEP representative to see if you qualify. Learn more about SCSEP and find a SCSEP location near you.

Anyone looking to learn more about Goodwill job training programs or career search assistance can also contact their local Goodwill.