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Experience Works helps older adults get back into workforce

Carol Kummrow administers the Experience Works program in Stevens, Pope and Traverse counties. She's available to meet at the Morris Senior Center with mature adults interested in the program.

By Tom Larson

Sun Tribune

Employment is a concern for many people today, and probably even more so for mature workers.

Experience Works is a 40-year-old non-profit organization that strives to get people age 55 and older the training and opportunities they need to make a new start in the workforce.

And agencies who employ Experience Works' Senior Community Service Employment Program participants get no-cost, trained workers who are excited to get back to a job, said Carol Kummrow, who heads the Experience Works program in Stevens, Pope and Traverse counties.

The Department of Labor pays for the program.

"It's free to the host agencies," Kummrow said. "They're getting a pair of hands for free."

The trick now, Kummrow said, is to get eligible workers interested in joining the program.

In Morris, the Stevens Community Medical Center, the Morris Public Library, the Senior Center and the Stevens County Developmental Achievement Center are interested in tapping into the Experience Works program, Kummrow said.

"We have a lot of agencies willing to be host agencies," she said. "But I don't have any people."

Here's how Experience Works works:

• Workers must be 55 years or older and living on a limited income.

• They meet with a program representative to set up an Individual Employment Plan and training based on skills, interests and personal qualities.

• The program works with qualified local non-profit organizations to determine their needs.

• Helps employees with job searches and works to links employees with the organizations that can best use their skills.

Training assignments are based on the IEP, and the hours worked typically are 18 to 20 hours per week at minimum wage. Work schedules are arranged between the employee and their organization.

The program's goals are to improve mature workers' lives by helping them obtain permanent employment, help them gain self-sufficiency, realize their goals and provide a community service.

The work sectors include security guard work, social services, retail and sales, maintenance, light industrial, library work, health care, food service, education, driving positions, custodial work, construction, computer jobs and clerical and office jobs, Kummrow said.

Anyone wishing to apply for the Experience Works program or obtain more information can contact Kummrow at (320) 585-6258 or (800) 450-5627, or visit with her during her office hours at the Morris Senior Center.