An aging workforce is no problem for Experience Works.

In fact, the organization embraces it. And, in the process, Experience Works and the agencies with which it works deliver a helping hand to those 55-and-over in search of employment opportunities throughout the region.

“It’s a blessing for the participants to have the opportunity to learn new skills and training and give back to the community,” says state director Carole Kincaid.

On Tuesday, Kincaid and fellow EW official Diane Stover handed out two special awards during a ceremony at the Lewis Community Foundation’s Christian Community Center.

The City of Oak Hill was named the organization’s West Virginia 2010 Champion Host Agency, while Victoria Waller was named West Virginia’s 2010 Champion Participant.

In revealing Oak Hill as the host agency winner, Kincaid praised the city — which has been involved with EW since January 2010 — for its work in providing job training opportunities for participants in the Senior Community Service Employment Program. Those include learning clerical, custodial, mechanical, carpentry and customer service skills. According to Kincaid, the city also hired two participants after they completed their training, and officials have expressed a willingness to hire more older workers as job openings arise.

“Older workers from Experience Works are job-ready,” Oak Hill city manager Bill Hannabass said in describing the partnership. “They are anxious to do a good job, enjoy showing up for work and appreciate their job.”

Mayor Anna Lou Holt echoed the remarks of Hannabass.

“We have had a lot of success with Experience Works,” said Holt.

* * *

Waller, a 62-year-old resident of Saxon in Raleigh County, turned to EW after becoming discouraged following an unsuccessful job hunt. Also, injuries suffered in an automobile accident left her disabled and limited her ability to perform physical labor such as she had during her previous job at a hospital, Kincaid noted.

Once getting involved with EW, Waller was placed in a training assignment at the Raleigh County Housing Authority, which allowed her to update her office and computer skills. She now assists families in finding safe and affordable housing in a six-county area.

She says she enjoys working with the public and helping those in need. And she urges the younger generation to stay active and engaged. “Don’t let anything stop you,” she said Tuesday, adding, “I want to keep learning.”

Her supervisor, Marie Clay, praised Waller.

According to Clay, Waller “learns quickly, will attempt any assignment with good cheer and her disposition has inspired and improved the jobs of all who work with her.”

* * *

Experience Works, formerly Green Thumb, began in four counties in West Virginia in 1979, and it now serves 11 Mountain State counties.

Working hand-in-hand with public agencies and faith-based groups, EW now reaches 30 states, and 11 million hours of community service are contributed annually to non-profit agencies.

“We have grown a lot and we hope to continue to grow,” said Kincaid.

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