Retirement not the end of work experience for many seniors

"I will work until I'm 99 and a half," said Sherry Rougeau, of Yorktown, who works at Housing Partnership Inc. in Williamsburg. Rougeau describes her age as somewhere above 55. Working after a retirement is something she needed to do financially, but also something she wants to do.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics, in 2000, workers over age 55 represented 13 percent of the labor force. By 2020, that number is projected to be 20 percent.

Rougeau started her career as a dietician and nutritionist for the U.S. Army working at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. While in the Army, Rougeau said she was on the team to treat one of the first prisoners of war released from the infamous Hanoi Hilton in Vietnam.

After her Army time, Rougeau opened a private practice in Cape Cod. Then in 2005, New England artist Claire Murray, asked Rougeau to run her new store in Williamsburg. She worked at the Claire Murray Store until 2011 when a bad car accident sidelined her. "I felt I had to give up my job," she said.

After two years, during which time she almost lost her home and ended up on food stamps, she was ready to go back to work. As a veteran, she went to the Veteran's Employment Commission and learned about an AARP program called the Senior Community Service Employment Program, run locally by the Peninsula Area Agency on Aging. To be eligible, participants must be at least 55 and have an income of no more than $14,362 for a single person household or $19,387 for a two-person household. Participants are placed in in temporary, part-time jobs with host agencies, many in the government sector.

In addition to the SCSEP jobs, the Peninsula Area Agency on Aging also holds an annual job fair for older workers. "We see job openings from teachers, licensed counselors, health care professionals, drivers, food services to technical and administrative," said Diane Hartley, of the PAA.

Another program is the Experienced Employees in Transition Job Club for workers 45 years old or older who are searching for jobs. "During the club we have speakers, workshops, networking, emotional and resource support to help in the job search," Hartley said.

For many of the aging baby boomer generation, retiring from one job, is not the end of their working experience. Like many, Rougeau went back to work out of financial necessity and because she wanted to give back to the world which helped her.

"I feel strongly that in the third portion of my life, I need to give back," she said.

For more information

Experienced Employees in Transition Job Club

2nd and 4th Tuesdays from 9 to 10:30 a.m.

Historic Triangle Community Services Center

312 Waller Mill Road

8th Annual Employment Event

Thursday, Oct. 5, 2017

2-4:30 p.m.

Historic Triangle Community Services Center

312 Waller Mill Road

For more information call the Peninsula Area Agency on Aging at 757-345-6277.

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