Palmetto Goodwill Program Helps Seniors Find Work in Georgetown, Horry Counties | Georgetown weather
GEORGETOWN — Tish Cromley of Palmetto Goodwill loves her job, even when things get a little hectic.
It’s a Friday afternoon, and she’s just helped a Georgetown Career Opportunity Center client use a computer he received through a Indeed.com to agree. With a few minutes of quiet between customers, the phone continues to ring. While she is on the phone, another customer knocks on the door.
On average, the career center sees around 120-150 job seekers per month, but since COVID the numbers have increased. “We brought in 120 people in August,” said Cromley, career navigator and community resource specialist for Palmetto Goodwill. “The numbers have come back in droves.”
Although the workload can be daunting, Cromley said his job was rewarding, especially when working with older people.
While the career center helps adult clients of all ages prepare for and search for work, about 11% of the center’s clients are seniors, for whom finding a job can be difficult. “Our seniors are the customers who often need the most help because they are not familiar with computers.”
That same afternoon, Cromley assisted an elderly client who is looking for work, but is no longer physically able to do the building work that had been his lifelong career.
“Construction work can be too hard for older people,” Cromley said. “A lot of times they have to fit what they want to do, or used to do, into what they can do.”
In an effort to better serve seniors, Palmetto Goodwill operates the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP), which is a program to assist unemployed residents 55 and older in several counties – including Georgetown and Horry counties. – to gain work experience that can lead to a second career, or at least an income after retirement.
“You’re not going to get rich, but you’ll make money, and you’ll go out and meet people,” said Georgetown’s Gladiola Hemingway, who joined SCSEP in 2017 after retiring from electronics component maker AVX. in Myrtle Beach.
“While the Career Opportunities Center offers a variety of services to job seekers of all ages, including job training, resume writing assistance and job fairs, the Community Service Program for Seniors is unique in that it matches seniors with public and nonprofit organizations that benefit older workers,” Megan Bandy, marketing communications coordinator for Palmetto Goodwill, said in an email. “Program participants are paid through the Palmetto Goodwill program, and they perform various tasks for the host agency that otherwise might not be completed due to a lack of funding.”
SCSEP is a workforce development program funded by the United States Department of Labor. The programs are also supported by funds raised by Palmetto Goodwill retail stores. More than 86 cents of every dollar generated from Palmetto Goodwill’s retail operations is used to support workforce development programs.
Palmetto Goodwill operates the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) in 23 counties: Allendale, Beaufort, Bamberg, Berkeley, Calhoun, Charleston, Clarendon, Chesterfield, Colleton, Darlington, Dillon, Dorchester, Florence, Georgetown, Hampton, Horry, Jasper, Lee, Marion, Marlboro, Orangeburg, Sumter and Williamsburg.
Five of those counties – Allendale, Bamberg, Chesterfield, Hampton and Marlboro – are outside Palmetto Goodwill’s service area. The organization operates SCSEP in these counties through an agreement with neighboring Goodwill affiliates.
“Palmetto Goodwill currently serves over 200 people through the senior program, and we currently have three SCSEP participants in Georgetown County,” Bandy said.
Some of the tasks senior program participants perform include clerical duties for non-profit organizations, sorting donations at food banks and thrift stores, cleaning parks, assisting at recycling centers, preparing meals at nutrition sites or help at libraries.
“Older workers are reliable, skilled and have lifelong experience,” Cromley said.
Sometimes seniors looking to re-enter the workforce need to learn new skills and adapt to new technologies, she said. The Senior Community Service Program helps seniors gain the work experience, skills and confidence needed to find full-time or part-time employment.
Program applicants must be at least 55 years old, unemployed, meet income requirements, and reside in Horry, Georgetown, Sumter, Florence, Darlington, Marion, Dillion, or Chesterfield counties.
“My younger sister told me about the program,” Hemingway said. “I retired in 2016 and stayed away for about a year.”
After nearly 37 years working in the computer chip industry, participating in Goodwill’s community service program was a change of pace for Hemingway, a 68-year-old widow who lives in Georgetown with her son, Joe Hemingway Jr.
She applied for SCSEP in July and was hired by Goodwill to work at the Career Opportunity Center on Highmarket Street.
“I was helping people with their resumes and showing people how to use the computer to search for jobs,” Hemingway said. “I’ve also helped other seniors get into the program.
One of those other seniors was his sister who told him about the program, Joyce Pringle. “Joyce worked for the fire department,” she said.
Hemingway worked at Palmetto Goodwill until May 2022, securing an extension due to the COVID pandemic.
Earlier this year, she took a job at the Andrews Library lending desk.
“The computer skills I learned here really helped me,” Hemingway said. As she learned to use computers to help others find work, these skills gave her the opportunity to embark on a new career at the library.
Working in an industrial setting, Hemingway did not interact with the public. But her time on the Goodwill program made her realize she was a people person.
“I really enjoyed meeting people and working here gave me a deep understanding of IT,” she said. “And I had a great teacher in Tish.”
Before leaving her job at Palmetto Goodwill, Hemingway trained her replacement, Rosalind Hanna, 73, who said she enjoyed her job at the career center.
“It’s a really good experience when you help someone find a job and they come back and are happy to tell you about it,” Hanna said.
Cromley said Hemingway always refers people to the career center and SCSEP.
“Working with her was such a joy,” Cromley said.