My Story: Valerie and Kathy

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.

“I want others to have the same opportunity I did,” says Valerie as she sits in the congressional offices of Indiana Representative Andre Carson in Washington, D.C.

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 several congressional representatives from Indiana during Goodwill on the Hill, an annual advocacy event.

Valerie and Kathy completed paid training with their local Goodwill organization and subsequently earned positions in the Indianapolis community. They joined other Goodwill representatives to advocate for older job seekers and ensure Goodwill programs are available to more people who need them.

“There was a time that I didn’t think I could get back into the workforce,” Valerie explains to Representative Carson’s aide. “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.”

At Goodwill, Valerie met a Senior Community Service and Employment Program (SCSEP) coach, and she immediately felt hopeful. 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.

Today, Valerie is an assistant to the philanthropy director with St. Vincent de Paul in Indianapolis. She loves helping others by raising money to support those experiencing poverty or homelessness. She is earning a good wage and has more confidence than ever. Valerie wants other older adults to have the same chance to find rewarding careers.

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

Kathy had a similar experience. She had previously worked for a manufacturing company for 32 years. When new leadership bought the company, she was no longer able to work the same hours and lost her job. At the same time, she was raising two grandchildren after losing family members to substance use disorders. With multiple responsibilities, she felt like finding work was becoming more and more difficult.

A Goodwill SCSEP coach 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. Kathy knew she wanted to work in the area of recovery and addiction, given her own experience of losing family members to the disease. Over time, Kathy stayed focused on her goals despite life’s challenges. She was given support with training fees and completed a Peer Recovery Coach Certificate that helped her secure a paid position earning three times the hourly rate she made while training.

Now that Valerie and Kathy have found success, they look forward to helping others by sharing their experiences with representatives from Congress. They both say Goodwill changed their lives, and they want others to be able to enjoy the same support.

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 job seeker 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 organization.