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Each year, we honor three older adults for their achievement in lifelong learning. Read the inspirational stories of this year's three recipients of the SSAI Learning Gets Better with Age Awards.
2019 SSAI Learning Awards

SSAI Celebrates the 50+ Workforce

June 5, 2019

On May 30, 2019, SSAI Maryland hosted a Celebration of the 50+ Workforce at the Center for Urban Families in Baltimore. Nearly 100 people attended the event including Brigid Smith, Director of Government, Business & Community Affairs for the office of John Sarbanes, U.S. Representative for Maryland’s Third Congressional District; The Honorable Leon F. Pinkett, III, Baltimore City Councilman representing District 7 and his Chief of Staff, Monique N. Marshall.Brigid Smith

The celebration, held in conjunction with Older Americans Month, focused on the vital contribution of older workers to the economic wellbeing of our state and, specifically, Baltimore City. Ms. Smith shared a letter from Representative Sarbanes that highlighted this contribution. “Society benefits when everyone can participate, and older adults play a key role in the vitality of our neighborhoods, networks, and lives.”

Ms. Marshall added, “Each year we see an increase in the number of older adults who Gary Office with Leon Pinkettare making a positive impact in and around the 7th District…they offer insight and experience that benefit the entire community.”

SSAI recognized two participants in our Maryland Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP). Mr. Ivan Brown and Ms. Carol John each faced challenges common within our low-income, older community that prevented them from finding meaningful employment. Then, they were connected with SSAI and our network partners Sandtown Senior Center and the Carroll County Business & Employment Resource Center. As participants in the SCSEP program, both Mr. Brown and Ms. Smith created a pathway to employment, economic empowerment, and continued self-sufficiency. 

Gary A. Officer, SSAI President and CEO, closed the event with a call to action. “Baltimore is growing,” he said. “That is evidenced by the number of cranes along the city’s skyline. But this region is not there yet. We need employers to play an active role in creating an inclusive environment for older, low-income workers to transition back into the workforce.”

 

Recognized for Outstanding Participation

Mr. Ivan Brown

After three years as an Army medic, Mr. Brown returned to Baltimore and spent 40 years in health care, eventually becoming a surgical technician. When he was diagnosed with liver cancer and underwent a transplant operation, he could no longer work full-time. Despite his efforts to find meaningful employment, he was only able to find gig positions that neither utilized his skills nor nurtured his passion for community service.

“Since I’ve been with the SCSEP program, I’ve been able to return to a job that gives me hope and purpose. I am able to do one of the things closest to my heart: serving the seniors in my community by picking them up to bringing them to the Sandtown Senior Center. This brings me great joy.”

Recognized for Outstanding Participation

Ms. Carol John

Ms. John spent more than 35 years in banking rising to the role of Assistant Vice President. After being laid-off, she pursued multiple avenues to find employment and was eventually referred to the SCSEP program. Ms. John worked with the Carroll County Business and Employment Resource Center to create her current role providing customer service, job search assistance and a beginning computer class that she built.

“SCSEP has allowed me to be a part of a group of people that have helping others as their daily goal. I am rewarded almost every day by the grateful smile and occasional hug from someone I have been able to help, someone who is in the same position I was in a few years ago. It is a wonderful feeling.”