First State Celebrates Older Workers

“Older workers are experienced, responsible, and they get the job done,” said Roy Hazzard, manager of the Senior Community Services Employment Program (SCSEP) as he referenced the senior program participants during the September 23rd older workers celebration event in Rehoboth Beach.

The celebration took place during “National Employ Older Workers Week” (September 20- 26, 2015) set annually showcase the Senior Community Service Employment Program— also coined the senior employment program—and to recognize participants, host training sites, and project staff. Receiving special honor was 58 year old Maria Campos from Millsboro who was awarded the 2015 Outstanding Older Worker. Beside Campos stood store manager Lucy Fuler and Roger Wood, both of God’s Way to Recovery – Rehoboth Beach who received an award for outstanding employer.

SCSEP provides on-the-job skills training and subsidized employment opportunities to individuals age 55 and older with limited financial resources.The program currently trains fifty-eight older workers in Sussex County.Since its inception in 1965, the program has helped over one million older Americans and thousands of older Delawareans enter the workforce. In Sussex County, program services are administered by First State Community Action Agency.

Bernice Edwards, Executive Director of First State whose staff consists of eight part-time trainees, says older workers are reliable and play a vital role in the workforce. “You can expect them to give an honest day’s work and do the job well. They are not only a valuable asset to their training sites, but to the community.”

Older adults are now the fastest-growing segment of the American workforce; people 55 and up are forecast to make up one-fourth of the civilian labor force in 2020. (POLL--the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research). Senior Employment Program Manager Roy Hazzard attributes the change to individuals living longer, retiring later, or needing additional income to supplement their fixed incomes and benefits. “There’s the need to work and also a desire to work. Many seniors want to work because it gives them something meaningful and productive to do; they can use their skills and experience to give back to society,” he said.

As more aged workers re-enter and remain in the workforce, fading are the ill-conceived notions that age is a liability and barrier to employment. Hazzard says the changing [and aging] job market gives seniors and their employers something to look forward to. “More and more employers acknowledge the benefits of hiring older workers which give our seniors hope for securing steady employment.”

As for Campos, she believes that older workers bring hard work, life experience, wisdom and loyalty to the workplace. She says the senior employment program changed her life by placing her with an organization [God’s Way] where she was given an opportunity to learn new skills in a different career field that would take her from being unemployed to now a full-time worker. Like many SCSEP supporters, Campos believes more awareness is needed to encourage employers to utilize the job training program to gain new, qualified older workers.

Her message to employers is simple: “hire an older worker.”


Roger Wood, Maria Campos (2015 Outstanding Older Worker), and

Store manager Lucy Fuler of God’s Way to Recovery – Rehoboth Beach.

God’s Way to Recovery received the award for outstanding employer.


SCSEP Program Manager Roy Hazard and Maria Campos who received the 2015 Outstanding Older Worker) award.

The Senior Community Service Employment Program is authorized by the Older Americans Act and funded yearly through the U. S. Department of Labor and Delaware’s Department of Health and Social Services, Division of Services for Aging and Adults with Physical Disabilities. In Sussex County, program services are administered by First State Community Action Agency.


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