MELROSE, FL – AARP Foundation awarded competitive grants to ten non-profit organizations including $190,880 to the Institute for Workforce Innovation to fund a proposal to create and manage a one-stop employment center to lessen the impact of long-term unemployment on older adults by assisting with job search needs.
The Institute for Workforce Innovation, Inc. (IWI), a local not for profit organization, will implement a senior employment and work support program in four counties in north central Florida intersecting in the rural town of Melrose, Florida through the Lake Area Older Adult Job Center (LAOAJC). The LAOAJC, to be located on the Melrose Senior Community Center campus, will provide comprehensive one-stop career services to unemployed workers over age 50, including job skills workshops, resume assistance, retraining, employment placement and follow-up. Secondly, the LAOAJC will also provide community, state and federal web-based resources to older adults in need. Lastly, IWI will establish two rural businesses including a survey call center in partnership with the Florida Survey Research Center, and a Medicaid Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) Waiver services division. These businesses will provide employment to older adults in the community.
“The AARP Foundation grant process was extremely competitive and we are thrilled to receive this award,” said Jonathan Leslie, IWI Executive Director “This grant has the potential to change the economic landscape for many older adults living in the lake area.”
Rural communities, like Melrose, were especially hard hit by the recent economic downturn due to limited services, transportation, and lack of employment opportunities. On a broader scale, the state of Florida experienced a double-digit unemployment rate that was the 6th highest unemployment rate in the nation for August 2011 at 10.7%. These numbers do not account for discouraged older adults who have stopped looking for work or those who lost their jobs and voluntarily retired early. The Lake Area Older Adult Job Center plans to use short- and long-term interventions in a collaborative design to increase access to employment services for older workers in a struggling economy.
IWI opened the Melrose Senior Community Center in April 2011 with the mission of the center to enhance the lives of older adults living in the lake area by promoting supports, services, and resources that facilitate active living and aging in place. In October 2011 the center launched a lunch/nutrition program in partnership with the Wal-Mart Foundation and Blue Water Bay, a locally owned restaurant. Each day 30-40 qualified older adults build relationships through conversation over a delicious hot lunch; many of which leave with carryout containers to deliver a meal to friends unable to leave their homes. The Melrose Senior Community Center also provides enrichment classes ranging from art to exercise.
“It is wonderful to see the older adults in the lake area gather over a meal when they would otherwise be home eating alone,” said Melissa McGinnis, Melrose Senior Community Center Coordinator. “We are excited about the potential impact of the Job Center on the lives of older adults.”
The Melrose Senior Community Center offers daily enrichment opportunities Monday – Friday from 8 am-4:30 pm with lunch for qualifying seniors at 12 pm at 307 State Road 26, Melrose, FL, 32666, (352) 475-5347.
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