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Seniors: Good Work Ethic Lasts A Lifetime

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Calaveras County employers say senior citizens make great employees.

Donnie Brooksher, owner of Capital Wireless in Angels Camp, said hiring Barbara Green, 79, was the best thing he´s ever done.

When his business began expanding and he needed assistance, he wanted a senior for the job, Brooksher said. “They´re totally reliable and totally honest,” he said. “They don´t call in sick Monday or leave early on Friday.”

To find an employable senior, Brooksher contacted Green Thumb, a senior employment agency now known as Experience Works. He found Green three years ago and hired her immediately. “She was exactly what we wanted,” Brooksher said. “She turned into a 24-karat gold bar.”

“I like my job,” Green said. “It´s very enjoyable and I look forward to it.

“I do data entry,” she explained. “It´s very interesting. The concept of loans and that sort of thing is a very interesting subject. You have to really pay attention. It´s not a job that you can just coast around on. It´s very absorbing.”

When asked how long she plans to work for Brooksher, Green said, “As long as they want me. They said I can work here as long as I wanted to. I´m in good health. I´m 79, but I don´t know I am.”

Green went to Sacramento on her day off recently to have a cyst removed, Brooksher said, but sure enough the next day she was into work as usual.

“It would take an act of God for her not to come into work,” Brooksher said.

“The advantage of hiring a senior is that they´re totally, absolutely reliable,” he said.

David Whiting, 72, of Valley Springs, is one of those reliable seniors. He works 53 hours a week, 37 of them are at the Mark Twain St. Joseph´s Hospital Thrift Stores in Angels Camp and Valley Springs and 16 hours are at the Calaveras County Jail.

Whiting said he would work more, but “there´s not more days in the week.”

He said he would continue working, “as long as they´ll put up with me.”

At the thrift stores, where he´s worked for two years, Whiting is in charge of surveying donations. He checks radios, clocks, “pots and pans” to see if they work. Occasionally he runs the cash register.

“It´s terrible for me to be here with all the stuff that comes in,” Whiting joked. “I´m a saver from way back. The $1 shirts are hard to pass up. I don´t have to worry about clothes ever again. I have more clothes than I´ll probably ever need.”

“I had a toaster burn out on me at home and the next day one came in,” he said.

“They have a saying here, ‘If you need something, all you have to do is wait a little while and it will show up´ and it does,” Whiting said. “It´s just a neat place to work.”

Whiting has been a correctional officer at the jail since 1992. His job is to process, book, fingerprint, feed and medicate prisoners, “whatever it takes,” he said. “In a small jail, correctional officers do everything,” he said.

Between all the work, Whiting finds time to visit with his wife of 52 years Donna, who´s in a convalescent hospital in Lodi.

Experience Works is a partner with Job Connection Calaveras, said Gerry Fugate, Experience Works field operations assistant.

Fugate places seniors 55 and older in part-time jobs with nonprofit host agencies, such as Women´s Crisis Center, Human Resources Council and First 5 Calaveras.

Experience works is paid for through a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor.

Seniors must meet income qualifications to participate in the program. The one-person annual income limit is $11,636.50 a year, and the two-person annual income limit is $15,612.50.

The goal is to train seniors and place them in jobs outside of the program.

“We hope to enhance (senior´s) abilities and skills to increase their opportunities to obtain jobs,” Fugate said.

The program´s concept started in 1965 with Ladybird Johnson´s Beautify America Program, she said.

Fugate, 73, began as a participant in the program working at the Job Connection. Now she oversees 20 training participants and placed five seniors in jobs last year. She has placed seniors in jobs such as real estate receptionist, bank receptionist, tour bus and school bus driver, security guard and restaurant cook.

Employers “want to hire seniors because they´re dependable, they show up and they don´t have babysitting problems,” Fugate said.

Black Oak Casino in Tuolumne County is going to hire 300 people by Dec. 1, she said. “I need people desperately,” Fugate said.

For more information contact Experience Works at 754-4242.

Calaveras Enterprise story by Vanessa Turner. For more Calaveras news, click: