Experience Works searches for outstanding older worker

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By The Staff

Experience Works, the nation's largest training and employment organization for mature workers, is searching for Kentucky's outstanding older worker. Experience Works Prime Time Awards program is part of Experience Works' national effort to raise awareness of the contributions made by older individuals and to break down barriers associated with the hiring of all older workers. Outstanding older workers from every state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico will be honored in Washington, D.C., and in their home states for their contributions to the workforce and local communities.

Nominees or applicants must be 65 years of age or older, a resident of Kentucky, currently employed, and working at least 20 hours each week for pay. The honoree must be willing and able to travel to Washington, D.C., the week of Sept. 22-26 for the Prime Time Award events.

The visit will include meetings with congressional representatives, a tour of the city's landmarks and the awards banquet and ceremony. Honorees have an opportunity to meet, share their stories and celebrate their accomplishments. Family, friends, bosses or colleagues can send in a nomination, or older workers can self nominate.

Kentucky's outstanding older worker in 2007 was 78-year-old Juanita Callahan.

Callahan's knowledge of computer technology made a teenager sit up and remark, "That lady is really cool!"

She's primarily self-taught on Word, Excel and QuickBook Pro software she uses in her job as a dealer for Kaeser and Blair products in southeastern Kentucky. She sells promotional items to companies and agencies so they can promote their business and increase sales.

"Her dogged style of 'getting the job done' as efficiently and thoroughly as possible sets a precedent for her coworkers and raises the bar for customer satisfaction among her clients," says a former colleague.

A devoted wife, mother, grandmother and career woman, she is also a life-long volunteer. Currently, she volunteers or holds a leadership position with several organizations. She is motivated by her ability to remain active and says it's been good for her.

"During the past eight to 10 years my friends have told me I push myself too much," she admits, "but my doctor says as long as I can do it, more power to me!"

The search for America's Oldest Worker for 2008 is also under way, as is the search for outstanding employers of older workers. Last year, 101-year-old Ray Jenkins, maintenance coordinator from Colchester, Vt., was named America's Oldest Worker. An online nomination form or a printed nomination form can be accessed at www.experienceworks.org. The deadline for nominations is June 1.

Experience Works is a national, nonprofit organization that provides training and employment services for mature workers. Established in 1965, Experience Works reaches more than 125,000 mature individuals in all 50 states and Puerto Rico each year. Home Instead Senior Care, an outstanding employer of older workers in 2006, is sponsoring this year's search. Home Instead Senior Care is the world's largest provider of comprehensive companionship and home care services for seniors. For more information about Home Instead's services, visit www.homeinstead.com.