Goodwill opens learn/earn program for seniors

You thought you'd be happily grazing in high grass, having been put out to pasture, but now you must get back into harness.

Retirees whose investment incomes sank like anchors dropped into Sequim Bay are looking to return to work but find they don't have the skills to compete for jobs.

Goodwill Industries can help - not necessarily with jobs in its thrift stores but with free training and on-the-job experience - through the Senior Community Service Employment Program that's abbreviated SCSEP and pronounced See-sep.

The federally funded program will send seniors to school at Peninsula College or other educational institutions to acquire expertise such as computer skills.

For free.

Earn and learn

Then it will find them suitable jobs in participating nonprofit or government organizations, where they will receive minimum wage - $8.55 per hour - but also invaluable on-the-job training for as long as four years, according to Matthew Erlich of Tacoma Goodwill.

Despite its name, Tacoma Goodwill covers 15 counties in western Washington, including Clallam, and operates the Port Angeles Goodwill Industries store.

An informational meeting today (see highlights) is open to all residents of the area, including Sequim and eastern Clallam County.

"It is for us a very important event," Erlich said, "considering the demographics of people who may live in Sequim.

"We are seeing a lot of retirees who need to get back into the workforce but who don't have the current skills.

"We're able to place people in classes for training, then place them with nonprofit and public employers, government agencies, that sort of thing, to get the experience."

Success stories

Erlich cited a 65-year-old Port Angeles man who'd once been a logger, owned a sawmill, and built and owned houses.

"He didn't have the type of job that had a pension plan," Erlich said, adding that the man now works at the YMCA in Port Angeles.

Erlich also told of a Forks woman, 61, who is learning while earning at the Forks Clothing Bank.

Potential employers - who pay nothing to employ the Goodwill trainees - also are encouraged to attend today's meeting.

Goodwill Industries was founded in 1902, and Tacoma Goodwill started in 1921.

Its sales have grown 6 percent to 9 percent during the recession, and a training and job-placement programs are up 20 percent.

Jim Casey is the editor of the Sequim Gazette. Reach him at jcasey@sequim

In a nutshell

What: Informational meeting Senior Community Service Employment Program

Who: Tacoma Goodwill Industries

When: 11 a.m.-4 p.m. today, Aug. 5

Where: Port Angeles Family YMCA, 302 S. Francis St., Port Angeles.

Who can attend: Members of the public or prospective nonprofit employers.

Who may enroll: Individual participants must be at least 55 and have low incomes. Enrollment priority will be given to persons older than 60 and to individuals with disabilities.

For more information: Call Walter Schoenhofen,

SCSEP coordinator, 360-456-0273 or

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