SALEM — Christine Plimpton was working on a project for an archeological contracting company when her life changed. After the project was completed, she was laid off in 2016. The combination of her specialized field, and Ph.D. in anthropology, made job hunting challenging.
“I was going through my life savings,” Plimpton said.
She was attending weekly job-hunting classes in Gresham, and in October 2018 she learned about a position with Experience Works funded through the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP). The position provided an opportunity to develop new skills and earn some income while she looked for a permanent job.
“It was a lifesaver,” Plimpton said.
SCSEP is a community service and work-based job training program authorized by the Older Americans Act. It provides training for low-income, unemployed adults age 55 and older, so that they may contribute to their communities as they improve their economic well-being. It identifies job opportunities with government and nonprofit groups in the community, called “host agencies.” Participants apply for the positions with the host agencies. If hired, the SCSEP grant pays their salary until the participant finds permanent work, or a maximum of four years.
Oregon’s SCSEP grant through the Department of Human Services Office of Aging and People with Disabilities (APD) currently provides for 76 SCSEP positions statewide. There are about 100 people on the waiting list.
Plimpton’s job through SCSEP is to match SCSEP participants with appropriate jobs with host agencies and finding new host agencies. “I knew I could stand in front of a classroom to teach, but I didn’t realize that I had the ability to reach out to people in organizations, who didn’t know me, and persuade them to work with me to create opportunities,” she said.
She recently worked to create a job training opportunity with the Oregon Public Guardian’s office for a woman who had recently been provided with public housing. She had been homeless because she’d been unable to find work.
Ryan Kibby, a program analyst with APD’s Community Services and Supports Unit, said Plimpton’s performance exemplifies what the program strives to achieve. It enables older adults to contribute to their community while building new, relevant job skills.
“I’m proud of the success stories I hear from and about participants and knowing that the program helps older workers overcome barriers that previously stood between them and a job,” Kibby said.
The number of community service hours contributed by Oregon’s SCSEP grant participants is impressive. From July 2018 to June 2019, SCSEP participants spent more than 74,000 hours in community service, performing activities that support local non-profit organizations and government agencies.
For Plimpton, the part-time position she currently fills through SCSEP has expanded her job prospects.
“I have gained new skills and it’s broadened my horizons.”