May is Older Americans Month, which gives us the opportunity to celebrate what getting older looks like today. The following letter was sent to Easter Seals by one of their SCSEP participants, who has given his approval for us to share it. It is another example of how SCSEP continues to make a difference in the lives of older workers. 

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To Whom it May Concern,

I would not be where I am today if it was not for the help and support of the Easter Seals Program. This program helped me to get back into the work force and to become a productive citizen again.

In the past I developed a severe weight problem and had very low self-esteem because of this. I went to several doctors for help with this to no avail. I decided to self-medicate with methamphetamine. I did okay with this for a while and managed to lose weight. This soon became out of control and I lost my very good job, got arrested and went to prison twice.

I got out of prison in January of 2016 after doing 42 months and was placed into transitional housing in order to assimilate back into society. During this this time, I looked for work and even volunteer opportunities. I was turned down at every place due to having just got out of prison and my age. My situation was beginning to seem hopeless and I thought that I would never get a job. I had been actively searching for five months.

I still kept looking and had great help with Amy Ringering with Work Source Oregon as my job coach. She mentioned the Easter Seals Program to me and thought I might qualify. She introduced me to Debra White, the Easter Seals Coordinator at the time, and she determined that I met the criteria for entry into the program. I was accepted at the end of May 2016 after waiting for an opening in the program.

I went through assessments to determine my abilities and to find out if I needed any additional training. I was offered computer classes which I took. I received help with writing a new resume and a master job application to help me in my job search. I took a job search class with them and learned a variety of new skills. I got practice on strengthening my interviewing skills. I had great support and help by all of the staff and felt my confidence growing.

I was placed at a job training site by Easter Seals at the end of June 2016. I wanted to try sales out as a new career and was placed with Habitat for Humanity for training. I learned how the store functioned and was trained to run the cash register. It felt good to be working and to finally be making some money thanks to the opportunity Easter Seals had provided for me.

I worked hard at Habitat for Humanity and did everything that they asked me to. They were happy with my work and my self-esteem grew. I finally felt like I was becoming a member of society again. In March of 2017 they hired me on as a part-time cashier. I followed the requirements of Easter Seals to continue looking for work and found a second job with a construction company that was willing to work with my schedule.

I thank the Easter Seals Program for helping me get my life turned around and gaining the confidence I needed to get back to work. What a great organization!

Russell Park