Sometimes life brings challenges that can be overwhelming and seemingly impossible to overcome. When such challenges emerge, support systems are often the essential ingredient necessary for individual progress and success.
Perhaps one of the greatest obstacles a person may encounter is unemployment resulting from unexpected life circumstances. In such situations, it’s often difficult for a person to turn events around without assistance, especially when that person is a senior citizen.
Fortunately, organizations such as AARP Foundation, located on Canon Boulevard in Oyster Point, offers programs designed to help struggling seniors, aged 55 and older, get back into the workforce. Specifically, it is a program that reaches out to individuals who live on the margin; that is, those who discover their retirement, social security or disability income is not sufficient to meet their needs.
AARP Foundation was originally set up in 1965 under the Older Americans Act, which provided services such as meals-on-wheels, transportation, legal counsel and support for caregivers. The foundation, though, is uniquely focused on serving those who are trying to overcome barriers to employment. Such barriers may include conviction history, no personal transportation, chronic illness, homelessness and/or substance abuse, says Dr. Rex Evans, assistant project director.
Evans touts the importance of listening to each person who comes through the doors, to understand and assess accurately individual need and readiness to move forward.
“I’ve learned, in this role, to be a lot less judgmental and make sure I understand who this person is, and that I actively listen to his or her individual story,” says Evans. “We realize these people are unemployed and that’s pretty scary in itself. So, our goal is to help them make a life change in a positive direction by providing job training, encouragement and other supportive services to help them be successful in gaining meaningful employment.”
At the Oyster Point location, each person employed is a successful enrollee of the AARP Foundation program. As such, each understands the importance of helping others get sustainable employment. Whether the job seeker needs more training, an updated resume, access to greater resources, transportation or help in becoming more self-sufficient, the foundation strives to assure employment and also to ensure these individuals are prepared to perform well and stay employed.
“Getting the job is part of the battle; keeping the job is another battle altogether. We try to provide career coaching. People must repackage their skill sets and look at life differently to move forward successfully. At the end of the day, employers are concerned with whether employees will help them contribute to the bottom line of the organization,” says Evans.
AARP Foundation works closely with host agencies, such as Goodwill, TNCC, Hampton Senior Center, Hampton Public Library, Community Free Clinic of Newport News and St. Francis Nursing Center to provide them with able-bodied employees who can meet their employment needs. “Every day, we have an opportunity to make a difference. We’re here because we believe in people, and we want to match their skill with a host agency that will give them meaningful and sustainable employment,” says Evans.
Senior citizens who must reenter the workforce can turn to AARP Foundation to help them overcome barriers to unemployment. “If I can get experienced mature workers who are 55 or older, who have been provided with necessary career coaching and are connected with an employer, there’s a great chance those persons are going to be hired. When this happens, they will feel productive, and they will grow in confidence in their move to self-sufficiency,” says Evans.
TO THE POINT
Address: 11834 Canon Blvd., Ste. H, Newport News, VA 23606
Contact: Dr. Rex Evans, assistant project director