Carroll's Bureau of Aging helps seniors put age and experience to work

March 13, 1994|By Ellie Baublitz | Ellie Baublitz,Contributing Writer

A worker recognition brunch to honor nine senior aides tomorrow will launch the participation of Carroll County's Bureau of Aging in Hire the Older Worker Week, which begins today.

"Hire the Older Worker Week is to call attention to the value of hiring mature people in the workplace," said Lynette Brewer, community services supervisor for the bureau.

"I think a lot of businesses recognize the good of hiring older workers -- they're punctual, conscientious, dependable and they're driven by the old work ethic," Ms. Brewer said.

"And a lot of time the older worker is willing to work at a lower wage because they don't want it to interfere with their Social Security. But the job still gives them a sense of contributing, of being needed, of importance," she said.

The nine senior aides the bureau will recognize tomorrow are participants in a federally funded program for people 55 and older who meet certain income criteria.

The program trains participants for specific positions. Carroll's senior aides work for the bureau as senior center site managers, maintenance employees, secretaries, office clerks and home care helpers for residents of senior citizen apartment complexes.

"They have to work for a nonprofit organization for two years -- basically it's a training program so the organization can train them and hone their skills so they're better prepared to go back into the work force in the private sector," Ms. Brewer said.

The senior aides work 20 hours a week for minimum wage and can take positions anywhere in the county with a nonprofit agency, Ms. Brewer said.

One area in which workers always are needed is home care for seniors. Duties include cooking and light cleaning.

"If we can match a senior with a senior, we've met two needs: The one who needs it has help and the other one is employed," Ms. Brewer said.

If any businesses in Carroll County have an opening suitable for a senior citizen, they should call Ms. Brewer at 848-4049, Ext. 34.

Several senior aides work at the Westminster Senior Centerincluding Della Slaughter, a clerk in the Senior Information and Assistance office.

The 73-year-old Westminster resident has worked for the program for seven years.

"I got my training through the Maryland State Senior Aide Program," said Ms. Slaughter. "I do typing, filing. I keep the brochures straight in the rack. I help people who come into the office, and I do the paperwork for the surplus food program."

Her job responsibilities sheet lists 11 duties, some of which include additional jobs, such as making calls, setting appointments for deliveries and keeping records for programs.

"I must like it, since I been here seven years," Ms. Slaughter said. "I took the job because it gives me a small income and, most important, it gets me out of the house and gives me something to do."

Idolene Plaine, the office manager for Senior Information and Assistance, is not a senior aide, but a part-time county employee. She is 73 and has been with the bureau since 1982. Her duties include keeping abreast of rules and regulations in the government assistance programs available to senior citizens.

"I love it," she said. "It's just a fun job for me -- it's a challenge to see how we can help the seniors who come in here. If they come in here crying, we try to get them to go out laughing."

The fact that she's a senior benefits the elderly who depend on her for assistance.

"It helps because we've been through it, too, like the Medicare claim forms," Mrs. Plaine said.

The job has changed her life, too. She met her husband, Charles, a volunteer at the center who distributes surplus food, at a luncheon. The couple will celebrate their third wedding anniversary next month.

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