Poverty and lonliness.

Lynn Wise is the North Dakota Program Manager for the Senior Community Service Employment Program, or SCSEP, says those are the two biggest challenges for many elderly individuals today.

“They’re home sitting there depressed, need money, and don’t know what to do,” said Lynn. “We can come in and help them and I’ve just seen personalities go from one end of the spectrum to the other and it’s just it’s really fun to watch that.”

Lynn is talking about the NICOA SCSEP program, designed to train qualifying individuals over the age of 55 who may be struggling with barriers to employment remain or re-enter the workforce.

“There’s so many people that are over 55 that cannot get jobs,” Lynn shared, “and the knowledge that they have is just, it’s unbelievable, and it’s basically just kind of going to waste.”

Lynn says the barriers to finding employment vary from one individual to the next.

Lynn, “There’s just a lot of people who have disabilities, people that were formerly incarcerated, and their backgrounds, it prohibits them from getting jobs, those are the type of people that the program helps the most,” Lynn explained. “There’s just people that are really struggling, and that really, they need the money they want to get back into the workforce.”

The program is designed to help each participant gain the skills they need to work.
Participants are also paid an hourly wage while they train, and the training wages do not affect SNAP or housing assistance.
A majority of participants need to sharpen their computer and technology skills, but they’re many reasons people join the program.
Cindy Haderlie retired from working in human resources, but decided that she wasn’t quite ready to fully retire emotionally, or financially.

“When I came up here, I didn’t even have Social Security yet,” Cindy Haderlie, Employment Training Coordinator, NICOA SCSEP, shared. “So I needed something to kind of subsidize my retirement. And it was perfect, it just worked out perfectly.”

Lynn also participated in the program, for different reasons.

Lynn, “I’ve gone through this myself, when I switched over jobs. I was in a job for 20 years. And when I put my resume in, I they look at the dates and it’s like, oh, yeah, and you don’t even get a phone call. So I mean, I understand their struggle with the age discrimination. And I’m not saying that it’s happening, but it is happening.”

Cindy trained with several participating host agencies in Dickinson, including The Arc, public transit, human resources for the city and even the police department.

“Every single place that I was I had fun, I loved the supervisors, I loved the people I worked with, we had a great crews everywhere that I went,” Cindy exclaimed. “And I learned some valuable techniques.”

And Cindy has continued to nurture the relationships she made throughout training.

“You get to interact with individuals and people who are in the same situation that you might be in,” Cindy said, “And you can see the the friendships form, but it also puts extra money in your pocket.”

And once an individual finishes the necessary training, they work with a job developer and seek employment.

“It’s really fun to watch. And you just see that their whole lives almost changed,” Lynn observed. “They blossom in some of these roles, and it just it brings them out of the dark.”

Lynn actually went on to work with the NICOA SCSCEP program, and she later hired Cindy.
A majority of the training is in computers and technology, and the NICOA SCSCEP partners with local colleges and universities to help train the participants.
The program is not limited to Native Americans or Indigenous communities and is open to all residents regardless of gender, mental or physical disability or race.
The length of time an individual trains will vary, depending on the skills a participant needs and wants to learn, with a maximum of four years.

For more information on NICOA SCSEP and how to apply, visit their website, or call 701-314-5100.