by Mitch Coppes, Government Relations Senior Specialist, Goodwill Industries International
Since 1963, Older Americans Month (OAM) has been observed every May to recognize the many contributions that older adults have made to our country and in their communities. Led by the Administration for Community Living, organizations, service providers, policymakers, community and business leaders, and individuals are celebrating OAM 2023 with the theme of Aging Unbound. OAM offers an opportunity to explore a wide range of aging experiences and how we all benefit when older adults remain engaged, independent, and included.
In a proclamation marking OAM, President Biden calls for strengthening our nation’s commitment to honor and support our older citizens. “On this 60th anniversary of Older Americans Month, we honor our Nation’s senior citizens, whose lifetimes of hard work, devotion to family, and commitment to community have laid the foundation for the country we are today,” says Biden. “We have a rock-solid responsibility to ensure our Nation’s seniors can age with dignity and financial security.”
Older Americans also serve a vital role in our workforce, and bring with them the knowledge, commitment, judgement, and insights gained through years of work and life experiences. Goodwill® is dedicated to providing holistic employment and supportive services to older workers. With support from the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP), Goodwill helps low-income older individuals connect to community service employment opportunities. Participants must be unemployed, 55 years of age or older, have incomes no more than 125 percent of the federal poverty level and have a training need. The 17 local Goodwill organizations that are SCSEP subgrantees for Goodwill Industries International serve approximately 2,800 older adults annually. Goodwill SCSEP helps to empower older Americans to live independent lives, develop new skills and talents, build work experience, and achieve financial security and well-being.
Valerie and Kathy, two older workers who benefitted from Goodwill’s workforce services, joined leaders from Goodwill Industries of Central and Southern Indiana (Indianapolis) to share the value of public investments in job training programs with their lawmakers during Goodwill on the Hill. “There was a time that I didn’t think I could get back into the workforce,” Valerie explains to staff with the office of Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN). “I have had several skilled positions in teaching and the banking industry, but a health issue and caring for my daughter who has a disability kept me from keeping my skills up to date,” she says. “I really didn’t know how I was going to learn about technology or prepare for interviews while making ends meet. Then I found Goodwill.” Join us in celebrating OAM 2023 by advocating for SCSEP and older workers.