Operation A.B.L.E.’s Senior Community Service Employment Program at North Shore Elder Services

Housed at North Shore Elder Services office in Danvers is Operation A.B.L.E.’s (Ability Based on Long Experience) Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP). Bob Edwards has been the Employment Specialist with Operation A.B.L.E. since July of 2011.

Operation A.B.L.E. has been offering training and employment for some 34,000 individuals over the age of forty-five since it was founded in 1982. Bob explains, “Throughout the country there are various types of agencies offering this program and there are different ways they are structured.” As the Employment Specialist for Operation A.B.L.E., Bob may be contacted directly or people are referred to him by the Boston office. He begins by determining eligibility for which family income is one factor that is considered. Candidates must be residents of Essex County, be currently unemployed, and be age fifty-five or over. Bob will usually recommend attending an Orientation/Information session in Boston for candidates to learn more about the program and services offered. SCSEP is a U.S. Department of Labor equal opportunity employment program administered by Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs.

“There are restrictions to the program in that we are working only with non-profit or government agencies. We can’t place anyone in a for-profit business. A stipend is paid by Operation A.B.L.E. pegged to minimum wage. Worker placement provides a ‘try before you buy’ advantage for the host agency who can eventually hire the worker as a permanent employee. The hope is that trainees will be hired directly by the host agency after a year. If that cannot be accomplished, usually Project A.B.L.E. will look for a new assignment for the trainee.”

“It’s a valuable program to offer, however, its availability has fluctuated over the years according to the economy. Sometimes we have had restrictions on how many people we can sign up and qualify for placement because we don’t have enough matching job placements. But things can change on a dime and then we might be told we can sign up all those who qualify.”

A search at www.operationable.net will quickly guide the reader to the many programs and services offered; Medical and Healthcare Office Training, Personalized Computer and Job Search Training, Internship Opportunities, Job Seeker Events, Networking and Job Clubs, and Coaching and Counseling Sessions.

For unemployed job seekers fifty-five and older who are committed to finding a job, there are opportunities to start earning right away. They receive on-the-job-training in their own community for up to twenty hours a week, get help searching for a job and acquire new work experience to add to a resume.

Unfortunately, it too frequently becomes harder after age fifty-five to secure employment within a year for those who have lost a job. The mission of Operation A.B.L.E. is to get people back to working so they can show current employment and up-to-date skills. As Bob points out, “The hardest time to find a job is when you don’t have one.”

Although Bob has “retired” several times since the age of sixty, he is currently working about forty hours per week between his three part-time jobs. Along with Project A.B.L.E., Bob is a MealsonWheels driver in Peabody for North Shore Elder Services and also works as a tutor for students in a Mass Rehab program. “Yes, I am busy but it’s what makes life interesting. My work provides amazing variety and that’s what I love.”

Bob had been employed as a Benefits Specialist with North Shore Elder Services for a year between 2009 and 2010 when he became involved in Project A.B.L.E. Bob brings a wealth of experience to his current role. He worked for IBM as a Systems Engineer; he worked for Gorton’s in Gloucester for ten years; he served as Vice President of a Danvers Bank; and he had a career in the Publishing business for ten years. Variety certainly is the spice of Bob’s life!

Bob’s passion for travel and adventure is contagious. “I’ve always loved to travel.” His trips have taken him to Spain, Ireland, Alaska, Canada, France, Berlin, Poland, and most recently to South America (Argentina and Chile) which was a more outdoors oriented type of travel. “That trip involved hiking and rafting. I needed to be in reasonably good shape. It was full of activity.” (Ask him about the Penguins of Chile. You won’t be disappointed!). Bob has his sights set on Africa next and would like to go on a safari.

Bob credits his family for his good genes but also works at keeping in shape and being active and appreciates his good health which allows him to be actively engaged in work and travel. “The Bob of today could easily outrun the Bob at forty who was not in good shape and it was at that age that I realized I had to do something to get into better condition. It was a tipping point for me.”

With all his energy and enthusiasm for staying engaged and active in the work force, Bob is a great resource for those job seekers needing support and encouragement. For more information about the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP), contact Bob Edwards at 978-624-2272 or at redwards@operationable.net. Don’t forget to check out the website at www.operationable.net also.

Author Info

Jayne Girodat

Jayne Girodat is the Communications Specialist at North Shore Elder Services. Along with ten years in the position of Caregiver Support Specialist at another ASAP, Jayne was a long-distance caregiver to parents for the same amount of time. That experience serves as motivation to better understand the issues of aging and to engage people in conversations about those issues. Jayne's background in teaching contributes to her appreciation of social media as a tool to educate readers on aging concerns. "I love asking people questions. Everyone likes to be heard. When you ask and then listen, you'll find everyone has a story and some of those stories are gems. I think it is particularly important to hear the voices of our older adults. Those are the stories I really connect to and hope to bring to North Shore Elder Services' audience."

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