Johnson County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Clerk Bonnie Jaynes spent 17 years out of the workforce, but is now back on the job with assistance from the Senior Community Service Employment Program offered through Big Sandy Area Community Action Program.
Jaynes was working as a nurses aid with Mountain Comprehensive Care when she was forced out of work by a series of back surgeries and recovery periods over a number of years. “I had always worked, my whole life, and so it was hard to adjust,” she said. Jaynes said that being out of work left her feeling isolated and without purpose. “There was a lot of depression,” she said. Though she is feeling better now, she is still limited in what she is able to do.
When Jaynes regained her strength and was cleared to return to work, she was eager, but encountered some difficulties. “Seventeen years is a long time to be out of work,” she said. She explained that not only did she encounter the difficulties that many mature workers face when they look for work, but also that a large number of employers are asking for applications online and expect more computer skills, something she did not have a great deal of experience with before.
By chance, Jaynes stumbled upon information about the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) offered through Big Sandy Area Community Action Program. “It turned out to be exactly what I needed,” she said. SCSEP assists jobseekers who are at least 55 years old and who have limited job prospects to return to the workforce. Program participants work 15 hours per week at community and government agencies and receive job training and educational opportunities designed to assist them in finding new, permanent work.
Through the program, Jaynes was able to meet with fellow senior jobseekers and learn some new job search skills that could help her overcome some of the difficulties she encountered. “I enjoyed it,” she said. “I went to the meetings and met new people. It really helped me. They understood what I needed and they understood my limitations.”
Jaynes was placed with the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office during her year with the program. As a Deputy Clerk, Jaynes manned the front desk and handled a lot of paperwork. The Sheriff’s Office was so pleased with her work that they hired her for the job after her time with the program ended. “I love the people I work with. They are great to be around,” she said. “I feel more useful, which makes me feel a lot better. Changing your environment and getting up for work, it just gives you a purpose and something to look forward to.”
Jaynes said she would recommend the Senior Community Service Employment Program to others. “Go for it,” she said. “Age shouldn’t have a bearing on what you can do. We’re as old as we feel.”
The Senior Community Service Employment Program is funded under Title V of the Older Americans Act, through the National Council on the Aging.