Green Thumb helps residents find jobs they enjoy

January 27, 2000|By MARLO BARNHART

Elinor Kline is in demand. She is dependable, trustworthy and not afraid of hard work.

The fact that she is 72 is just a number to this widow who recently joined forces with Green Thumb Inc. to get employment at an age when many people are well into retirement.

Green Thumb coordinator Peter Schwartz said he's learned the presumption that someone is "too old" for a job isn't true.

"I have people who are begging me for workers who will show up ... and older people do."

Situated in the Department of the Labor Licensing and Regulation building at 14 N. Potomac St., Green Thumb is available to help more people like Kline find work they want to do.

"I like to be my own boss and this job gives me that," Kline said of her preference to clean other people's houses.


She is working 10 hours a week taking care of the home of Don and Jone Bowman. The work is rewarding but Kline would like more hours.

"I really need things to do, and I'm able to put in a full day's work," she said.

With the new confidence she has gained from her association with Green Thumb, Kline is thinking about starting her own cleaning business.

Schwartz said Kline is typical of the mature worker.

"Many prefer administrative jobs, but there are all kinds of jobs out there for people who are reliable and capable," Schwartz said.

Those jobs could include providing care for children, the elderly and those with disabilities, tutoring students, operating computers, landscaping public grounds, teaching skilled trades and crafts, and working as librarian clerks, receptionists, mechanics and in other positions.

Green Thumb Inc., a national nonprofit corporation based in Arlington, Va., has a presence in 44 states.

The mission is to strengthen families and communities by providing older individuals with opportunities to learn, work and serve others.

Applicants must be Maryland residents, age 55 or older and have limited income.

Green Thumb pays participants the minimum wage for about 20 hours of community service work while they receive training, work experience and supportive services designed to prepare them for work.

A new e-commerce Web site - called - is also available, Schwartz said.

While some may wince at "geezer," the term as defined by Green Thumb Inc. means a "bright, experienced, talented person."

Kline, for one, doesn't care about titles or labels or numbers that refer to age. All she knows is she has always worked and she's happiest when she's working.

For that reason, she and Green Thumb Inc. have formed a working relationship and she encourages other mature workers to do the same.

Callers to Green Thumb Inc. will speak with Harriet Stansfield who helps applicants fill out the necessary forms.

The Washington County office can be reached by calling 301-393-8243.

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