My Story: Kathy Kotch

In May, during Older Americans Month, Goodwill® celebrates the contributions that older workers make both inside and outside the workforce. At a time when employers need to build resilience, older workers can play a critical role. They bring experience, reliability and perspective to every workplace setting. Your purchases and donations make stories like Kathy’s possible.

In May 2017, Kathy Kotch found herself seeking a new beginning. She had a high school education and some work experience, but she had been out of the workforce for several years and longed to contribute to her community. When she walked into a Goodwill Industries of Upstate/Midlands South Carolina Job Connection Center, Kathy learned about a program that could guide her to success.

The Senior Community Service and Employment Program (SCSEP) is a government-funded program designed to help older job seekers, ages 55 and over, find paid community service employment training in the field of their choice. At Goodwill, Kathy met a SCSEP coordinator and other older job seekers with similar goals. She immediately felt hopeful.

“I feel like I found my purpose in life,” Kathy says.

She had previously taken computer classes and worked to increase her skills, but she was starting to feel frustrated because so many employers required previous work experience, which she lacked. A Goodwill SCSEP coordinator helped Kathy develop a plan to do paid work training with a local nonprofit, build skills, create a résumé and develop confidence with the job application process. Over time, Kathy stayed focused on her goals despite life’s challenges, including a significant health issue and the loss of her soul mate. Her continued focus led to her earning the job of her dreams at a local daycare, Lifetime Discoveries.

“I was meant to help with the development of toddlers, both mentally and physically,” she recalls. “With Goodwill’s help, I can now give and receive hugs and love with so many kids.”

Since first starting with Goodwill SCSEP, Kathy now earns 25% more than her paid training rate. She is exceling in her work, and, in March 2023, Kathy earned the Lifetime Discoveries Teacher of the Year Award. She says she has found lots of joy and laughter again after years of being in the doldrums.

The chief operating officer of the daycare says she couldn’t be happier with Kathy’s work. “I often hear Kathy laughing at the antics of the young toddlers. She will come early, stay late, and fill in when our other staff are out. I can always count on her, and she is a blessing.”

Now that she has new hope, Kathy looks forward to going to work every day. Her employer knows she has a reliable, consistent employee to rely on when vacancies and worker shortages continue to challenge the childcare industry across the U.S. Kathy is an outstanding example of determination despite feeling down and out.

All older job seekers and workers deserve the opportunity to thrive. Goodwill helps older Americans through paid job training, upskilling, and ongoing employment support and assistance. If you are an older worker looking for training or paid work experience, contact your local SCSEP representative to see if you qualify. Find a SCSEP location near you.

Anyone looking to learn more about Goodwill job training programs or career search assistance can also contact their local Goodwill.

Goodwill® proudly participates in the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP), a national employment and training program funded by the U.S. Department of Labor. A $22,791,863 grant from the U.S. Department of Labor provided 90% of the funding for Goodwill SCSEP in the 2022 program year. Participating Goodwill locations provided the remaining 10% through in-kind contributions worth more than $2,279,186.