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Greene helps seniors find jobs and training

June 25, 2009|By MARLO BARNHART

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- At 70 years old, Wendell Greene is almost a walking advertisement for the program he coordinates in Washington County for the Maryland Department of Aging.

The Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) assists unemployed, low-income people ages 55 and older in need of employment and training.

"We have about 28 people currently involved, and we're adding more all the time," Greene said from his office at 14 N. Potomac St., where he shares space with the One Stop Job Office.

Greene said he has access to telephones and computers by working out of the job office, and that's a big plus.

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"But even more importantly, they refer people over 55 who have been laid off, as well as veterans, to us," Greene said. They must meet the senior employment program low-income criteria, which is one of the toughest requirements, Greene said.

Training is obtained through participating nonprofit agencies or government entities that provide a community service to the general or senior populations.

Trainees are given an assignment that corresponds with their goal for employment. While in training, they receive minimum wage ($6.55 an hour) for 20 hours per week. Wages are paid under a federal grant.

Greene said that term can be extended to 30 hours per week. In July, minimum wage will go up to $7.25 an hour, Greene said.

The mission of the program is threefold:

o To identify appropriate part-time training opportunities in community service

o To empower low-income older persons to seek permanent employment

o To educate employers as to the value of age diversity in the workplace

"What we need is more employers to hire these people," Greene said.

The host nonprofit agencies also need to increase so more people can take advantage of the opportunity, he said.

The program aims to find permanent, unsubsidized employment for older workers either within host agencies or with nonprofit, government or private-sector employers.

Workers are trained and hired by health care agencies, hospitals, service industries and senior services, and in administrative, clerical, transportation, custodial and security fields.

SCSEP is authorized under Title V of the Older Americans Act and funded and monitored by the U.S. Department of Labor. The Maryland Department of Aging is the state coordinator for the program.

For information on Washington County opportunities, call 301-393-8243.

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