Easterseals program playing role in fulfilling labor shortage

Published: Oct. 22, 2021 at 5:22 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Easterseals Central Alabama is doing the quiet but important work of preparing seniors to re-enter the workforce.

In light of employers having trouble finding good help these days in the midst of the pandemic, the Senior Community Service Employment Program is really starting to shine.

We found Barbara Straker on her computer Friday morning, and she’s likely just a few taps away from finding a job.

“I’ve had my first interview,” Straker said proudly.

The reason behind her confidence?

“I would rather work. I love working,” she said.

Therein lies the secret; yet it’s no secret at all. Sitting around and doing nothing won’t cut it for Straker. It’s people like Straker employers are beginning to take a hard look at. In fact, they already have.

“I had a meeting this morning with a company,” said Debbie Lynn.

Lynn heads up Easterseals Central Alabama, home of the Senior Community Service Employment Program designed for those 55 and older looking to get back in the game.

“We’re working with them updating their resumes. There is also a technology gap with many seniors,” said Lynn.

Highlighting C-SEP comes on the heels of the latest unemployment rate in Alabama; 3.1% as of September, virtually unchanged from August.

Still, more than 68,000 remain out of work in the state for various reasons. Straker won’t be among them.

“I am in the process of negotiating with a mental health job where I can help a person who is having a hard time,” Straker said.

At 84, retirement is simply not in Straker’s vocabulary. She’s always found pleasure in work, and she has a message for those who don’t.

“You’re going to wake up one day and be sorry,” said Straker.

She has put in the hours to prepare herself for a new adventure, waiting now to see how the next chapter unfolds.

Lynn says the program from the eight Easterseals throughout the state sends hundreds of seniors into the workforce every year.

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