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May 2009 News News page Archive

Employment and Training Specialist Mary Lee Syme and Laura Lucas, a program participant in the Senior Aide Program, review files at Washington-Morgan Community Action.
Senior Citizens Take Community
Service to the Next Level

By Nicole Jackson

When many people hear the words “community service”, they think of local student organizations or schools doing projects. However, a group of Marietta residents are changing the meaning of community service through Washington-Morgan Community Action’s Senior Aide Program.

The Senior Aide Program has been in operation since the 1960’s and has helped many seniors in the community get back into the work force. Seniors ages 55 and older apply at Community Action and are placed in an area work site. Non-profits or governmental offices that participate are known as host agencies. Some of the current host agencies for the program include Ely Chapman, EVE Inc., and the O’Neill Senior Center. The program currently has 30 seniors participating in Washington, Morgan, and Athens Counties. The program started with the idea of seniors giving back to the community and helping them gain extra income to subsidize social security or pensions at the same time.

Georgia Baker started working as a senior aide in August 2008 for the Ely Chapman organization. Georgia learned of the program through a friend and decided to pursue the lead after not working for a couple of years. “I am a good fit with Ely Chapman, and am truly grateful for everything Mrs. Chapman has done for me” Baker stated. The program not only serves as a source of income for many seniors who are barely able to afford their own prescriptions, but coming to work also provides a new purpose for their lives.

The income is extremely critical for the senior aides because many of them are unable to receive their social security yet, or the income that they receive is not enough to afford the necessities.

“We are dealing with the baby boomer generation right now, and they are hard workers. Many of our clients never miss a day of work, and are happy to receive the community service assignment through the Senior Aide Program,” said Mary Lee Symes, the Employment and Training Specialist for the Title V program at Washington-Morgan Community Action.

Many of the clients in the program not only rely on the income, but like the idea of helping their community. The program focuses on the idea of generating community service, and the seniors develop individual skill sets as they work. The program attempts to put each worker in an environment that they will enjoy and be successful at.

Ruby McElfresh also works at Ely Chapman as a cook in the kitchen. Ruby had always been a stay at home mom, and then a friend referred her to the program. “I have only missed one day of work in the past four years” McElfresh said. She always loved to cook, and now she can help an organization in the community at the same time.

Loretta Farensworth is another Ely Chapman worker in the kitchen who developed new life skills through the Senior Aide Program. Farensworth had always received jobs through mutual friends, and had worked in factories. Now in her fifties, she had to prepare a resume and research job opportunities, which are some of the requirements for the program. Loretta was excited when she completed her resume so she kept it to show her family--her first and only resume.

Washington-Morgan Community Action is the coordinating agency for the program, but it also serves as a host agency for many seniors. Linda Krotkiewicz has worked as a senior aide at Community Action in the One Stop career center. Linda helps community members search for job openings, helps them register with Ohio’s unemployment services, and helps create and build resumes for clients. Linda thoroughly enjoys her job, and the fact that she can help people day to day. She has been working at One Stop since April 2008, and is a retired nurse, having worked in that field for 35 years. Linda is confident on the computer now and loves being able to come to work each week.

The Senior Aide Program helps give seniors opportunities they would not have otherwise. For many seniors, a job assignment has led to improved health and well being through remaining active in the community. The program also helps close a gap financially for many seniors, and teaches life long skills.

The Senior Aide Program is made possible by a grant from Senior Service America Inc., which receives its funding from the United States Department of Labor.

Washington-Morgan Community Action Washington and Morgan Counties, Ohio

218 Putnam Street, Marietta, OH 45750 (740) 373-3745
50 W. Third Street, PO Box 398, Malta, OH 43758
(740) 962-3827