Working after retirement often a must

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By The Staff

For many senior citizens, the word "retirement" doesn't mean what it used to.

In today's economy, all too often one "retires" from a life-long job only to immediately seek out another job - just to pay the bills.

A story on today's front page, however, offers hope for many seniors.

Funded by the U.S. Department of Labor, the Senior Community Service Employment Program is free to participants who are 55 and older and meet low income criteria. The program helps seniors with self-assessments, technical and skills training, the job search process and finding an appropriate training assignment with a local community service agency.

According to Kent Kahn with Experience Works, a nonprofit agency that operates the SCSEP in Kentucky, the organization has seen an increase of up to 70 percent nationwide in the number of people age 55 and older who are seeking assistance.

Many of us may be more familiar with the organization's former name - Green Thumb.

"We are not talking about people who need a little extra income to help pay for their hobbies," Kahn says. "We are seeing people who need jobs to keep a roof over their heads, put food on the table and buy their medicine."

Kahn said the situation for older people seeking jobs is made more difficult by the large number of people of all ages who need to find work. In December 2008, there were 9,000 Kentuckians age 55 and older unemployed and looking for work.

At the rate we're going, things aren't going to be getting better any time soon. It's good to know there's help out there for our seniors.

Things just aren't what they used to be. But they are looking up.

Thanks to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act signed by President Barack Obama on Feb 17, an additional $120 million will be injected into the SCSEP. This will mean about 101 new positions for Kentucky and about 14 for the multi-county region serving Taylor County.

That's good news for people like Glenda Meadows, a 74-year-old Green County woman who found a job at Pierce Elementary School through the local Experience Works program. Pierce and Summersville elementary schools will consolidate after the current school year and Meadows will no longer have a job.

But, she says, she'll likely go back to Experience Works.

"I'm 74 years old and as long as I can, I'd like to work."