Program helps people over 55 get back into the workforce

Program helps people over 55 get back into the workforce

ODESSA, TX (KWES) - It's something many people deal with when they reach a certain age. Finding a job can be difficult when you're over 55. For one Odessa woman, she said her life changed thanks to one program.

"We feel like age is a factor where you reach a certain age and you're thrown out into the pasture," said Experience Works Participant Assistant BJ Jones.

"I feel awesome, it seems like I have more energy, I'm loving it," said Rose Hammond, 68.

After working for 18 years and without a job for five years, Hammond realized staying at home after retirement was not an option. It was time for her to expand her horizon.

"I found I didn't have too much to do besides the housecleaning, I have great-grandkids and keeping them and everything," said Hammond. "What was going through my mind, is what am I going to do? How am I going to make ends meet with the budget I'm living on? I was living on a stiff budget."

Through the help of Experience Works, a program that assists those over 55 find a job. With that, they took Hammond in. Now, she's working at the Permian Basin Regional Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse as a receptionist.

"The atmosphere here is great, all of the people, I couldn't ask for a better job," said Hammond.

"Rose was a prime example of if you do what you're supposed to do for this program, the ultimate reward is a job," said Jones. "They can keep going and keep learning. It's all based on them. "

The program helps qualified participants from building job searching skills to computer training, They say although it can get discouraging for those wanting to go back to work but never getting that interview callback, there's still a light at the end of the tunnel.

"Older Americans are getting written off," said Experience Works Participant Assistant Patricia Hogan. "People aren't hiring them, they're not going to tell them that. But they shouldn't be. They have life experience. They have skills, they have work experience. Just because we're older doesn't mean we won't learn new things."

And as for Hammond, she doesn't plan to stop working anytime soon.

"I want to work as long as I can, 78, and I still want to be here," said Hammond. "I still do."

Experience Works serves 17 counties in West Texas including the cities of Rankin, McCamey, Fort Stockton, Alpine, Marfa, Andrews, Midland, Winkler, Monahans, and as far as Presidio.

Participants will get signed with a host agency for six months until they can get a permanent job. Non-profits that need help are usually the ones who take the participants and Experience Works pays them. As they accomplish their goals, they can even move up positions.

"I found myself in that position and it was a challenge for me to try to get employment," said Hogan. "I knew my age was a part of it and I hadn't been in the workforce for several years."

To see if you qualify, you can contact Experience Works at (432) 367-1453 or visit their website here.

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