By Pat Maurer
Experience Works, the nation’s largest organization serving older workers through the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP), named the Library as the top Service Partner for Michigan.
The award was presented to the library by Experience Works Michigan State Director Andrea Bridgewater during a special public ceremony.
The Pere Marquette District Library is a hub of activity and community service activities for three townships, including the city of Clare. With a service population of more than, 8,000, the library serves as a learning center for all ages, a convention and meeting center, and an event center.
As a Community Partner, it provides excellent training opportunities for SCSEP participants, like Robert Rutkowski, who is currently training in janitorial/custodial duties. “He is our Johnny-on-the-spot,” says Director Sheila Bissonnette. “He helps us in so many ways whether it’s keeping our facility clean or making sure rooms are set up for meetings. He’s very reliable and it would be hard for someone else to fill his shoes.”
Bissonnette takes an active role in overseeing the training to make sure it’s a good fit. “Everyone has a talent to offer and it’s important to look closely to find it.” She also networks with business and community leaders to assist SCSEP participants in their job searches or in their personal support needs. According to Bissonnette she didn’t hesitate to drive a SCSEP participant to an out-of-town job interview when his car broke down. It’s with this positive attitude that SCSEP participants thrive during their time at the library. More than five seniors have received training over the past few years, with three being hired by the library and the remaining two finding employment elsewhere.
“We are thrilled to recognize the library for its outstanding partnership that helps older workers overcome obstacles to employment while providing them with the opportunity to serve their community,” said Bridgewater.
Experience Works, a national, charitable, community-based program, operates the SCSEP in 58 Michigan counties and provides training and community service to older workers as a stepping stone to permanent employment. For more information visit: www.experienceworks.org.