07/20/2010 04:43 pm ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Facing Challenges through Drive and Determination

At the start of 2009, older Americans faced the highest unemployment rate in 31 years. It became apparent that they no longer benefitted from the same job security as did younger generations due to the poor economic climate. Older workers have found it more difficult to find work than their younger counterparts. In the face of these challenges, Goodwill is able to help out-of-work seniors through the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP). Julie Stewart is one amazing Goodwill employee who was able to find work through this program.

Julie was a hairdresser for 28 years before back problems made it impossible for her to stay on her feet for long periods of time. She turned to driving around the country in a motor home and selling items in flea markets, but she longed to work in a position and for an organization that she believed in.

"I felt that I didn't have a life, and that I would like to work," she says.

In 2008, she visited Goodwill Industries of New Mexico (Albuquerque) and enrolled in SCSEP. With her determination and drive, Julie was able to find work soon after at Ser de New Mexico. Not long after that, she had the opportunity to apply for a data entry job at Goodwill. She got the job and has been there ever since.

"I love everything -- the data entry is just an adventure to keep everything clean in the system," she says. "Doing pre-enrollment assessment is wonderful because I can share my experience with the people. A lot of people have given up hope, feel that life is over as a senior, and are in such dire situations. It's so hopeful for them to get into this program and for their lives to change."

It always makes me feel good to hear stories like Julie's and proud that we are able to help many different types of folks out there. It was Julie's desire to find meaningful, fulfilling work that got her looking in the first place, and I am glad she found SCSEP and Goodwill.