Since 1963, communities across the nation began to acknowledge the contributions of older workers by using the month of May to celebrate Older Americans Month (OAM). The annual observance offers the opportunity to celebrate our nation’s older workers. This year’s theme, ‘Blaze a Trail', emphasizes the ways older adults are reinventing themselves through new work and new passions, in order to blaze a trail of positive impact on the lives of people of all ages.

One of the ways the Department of Labor's Older Worker Unit is celebrating OAM is to share success stories that highlight the accomplishments of older workers in the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP). Our next story was provided by Goodwill Industries, Inc. It features Curtis, who utilized SCSEP resources to find a brand new career just shy of his 70th birthday.

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Curtis Parker - Former SCSEP Participant 

In May of 2013, Curtis Parker reached out to a local Goodwill in the state of Washington to see if he was eligible for SCSEP. Even though he was a hard worker, he was no longer able to cook or perform custodial duties for the railroad because of physical limitations. The lack of a high school diploma also limited his job options. He had found some part-time jobs but nothing had lasted very long or paid very much.

After enrolling in SCSEP, Curtis received a full evaluation that included being tested for GED classes. He was able to attend class while he also trained at his community service assignment. Curtis received his GED certificate within six months of studying. He still needed computer training, and he also wanted to to learn how to search for jobs online. Curtis was assigned to the resource room at the local Goodwill business office and completed two courses offered at his host agency that improved his computer skills. He also completed another class on how to “Maximize Your Potential” for his job search. The assignment at the host agency provided Curtis the opportunity to increase his computer skills so he was able to complete on-line job searches and other skills and interest assessments.

Curtis decided that he wanted to be in sales with a focus on insurance sales. With funds from SCSEP supportive services, he was able to complete the classes needed to sell insurance and he took the final test nine months later. After passing the exam, Curtis was rotated to a new host agency that taught him how to create Excel spread sheets, which was another new skill that he could use in his new career.  

On March 15, 2016, Curtis was hired by a local insurance company, just a few days before his 70th birthday. The staff stated that, although Curtis had a long road ahead of him, he never gave up in making a better life for himself. He took advantage of all the resources that were made available to him, and in turn, the staff was able to provide Curtis with the new direction and support he needed to succeed. George Elliott said it best, “It’s never too late to be what you might have become.”