My Story: Roberta Horner

This holiday season, Goodwill® recognizes the contributions older workers make both inside and outside the workforce. At a time when employers urgently need to fill open positions, older workers can play a critical role. They bring experience, reliability and perspective to every workplace. Your purchases, donations and financial support make stories like Roberta’s possible.

In March 2022, Roberta Horner found herself seeking a new beginning. She had worked in factories for many years, but she recently started experiencing health issues that kept her from continuing in this line of work. Roberta was living in Harmony House, a shelter for women seeking housing and hope, where she heard about a Goodwill program that helps older adults get back into the workforce and build new skills.

The program is called the Senior Community Service and Employment Program (SCSEP), and it is operated by The Goodwill Industries of Akron, OH, Inc. 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, Roberta met Andrea, a SCSEP program manager, and she immediately felt hopeful.

“This program is a godsend,” Roberta said. “It came at a time that I had given up.”

At Goodwill, she worked with Andrea to develop a plan to find stable housing and build skills that could help her earn full-time work. In the first few weeks of training, Roberta built digital skills, learned the accounting software Quickbooks, and completed two certifications in medical billing and veterinary assistantship. She continues to train with the SCSEP office, where she is helping with day-to-day administrative duties. Roberta is enjoying her training environment and meeting new people.

“I used to think there was so much that I can’t do,” she recalls. “With Goodwill’s help, I see that this was the wrong thinking. I’ve learned more in a few months that I ever thought I would know in a lifetime.”

Since first reaching out to Goodwill, Roberta has secured her own apartment and recently adopted a dog, who keeps her very busy.

“I am so glad I took the risk to start this program,” Roberta says. “Just because I am older doesn’t mean I’m not employable. I still want to work hard, and I keep learning new things every day.”

Now that she has new hope and housing, Roberta is working toward finding reliable transportation and earning employment that pays at least $14-$15/hour. She is determined to contribute everything she can to her community service agency. Roberta 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, ongoing support and assistance finding employment that provides livable wages. 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.

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 percent of the funding for Goodwill’s SCSEP programs in the program year 2022. Goodwills provided the remaining 10 percent through in-kind contributions worth more than $2,279,186.

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

When you donate and shop at your local Goodwill, you help individuals like Roberta reach their full potential through the power of work. Find the location closest to you or make a monetary donation to show your support.