Wednesday, October 3, 2018

National Employ Older Workers Week Let’s Go Planting

Master Gardener Richard Moncrief of the Friends of Dean Park teaches a gardening class

Master Gardener Richard Moncrief of Friends of Dean Park, Inc. teaches a gardening class

The National Employ Older Workers Week Conference was held in Water Valley, MS, September 27, 2018, with the Friends of Dean Park, Inc. (FODP) of Winston County, Louisville, MS as one of the presenters. Other presenters were Water Valley Fire Chief Sherman Gooch and NCBA Job Counselor Sandra Johnson with information about the American Red Cross.

The National Caucus and Center on Black, Aging, Inc. (NCBA) located in Cleveland, MS had nearly 90 older trainees to attend the conference. NCBA is a federal government program funded through the Senior Community Services Employment Program (SCSEP). These older workers are paid a minimum wage stipend. They can train up to 4 years for an average of 20 hours per week, depending on the year’s budget. Chester Johnson is the Director for the Mississippi offices. He explained procedures for completing time sheets and job searches. Each trainee is required to look for employment and to report at least two employers that they have contacted per month. The ideal situation is for the Host Agency to employ the trainee at the end of their training.

For over 10 years the FODP, has been a Host Agency and has had from two to three landscape trainees from this program to train at Dean Park and at various other non-profit agencies as well as at the Eiland Middle School, Fair and Louisville Elementary School. Presently, FODP only has one trainee due to the budget cuts this year. Catherine Triplett attended the conference from Louisville, MS also. She is being trained at East Central Community College.

This year’s theme was “Let’s Go Planting” with Master Gardener Richard Moncrief presenting and Master Gardener Elmetra Patterson (Host Agency Supervisor) assisting. The theme emphasized that one is never too old to learn new things; to take part in activities that can enrich ones physical, mental and emotional well-being and to celebrate the many ways older adults make a difference in our communities. Moncrief presented ways that disabled persons and seniors can garden with little space and with accessibility. He demonstrated how to build a square bed for gardening which is very manageable for seniors. Other gardening discussed: Vertical Gardening, Raised Bed Gardening, Tire Gardening, and Container Gardening. Also, FODP displayed a miniature farmers’ market to emphasize that seniors can participate in their local farmers market by growing vegetables for the market. FODP has Raised Bed Gardens which are used as a teaching tool for children, disabled and seniors as it also supplies vegetables to the neighbors.

The eligibility requirements for participation in the SCSEP: 1) Must be unemployed; 2) must be 55 years of age or older with priority given to applicants who are 65 years or older; 3) must be capable of performing part-time training duties; 4) must reside in the state where they will be assigned; and 5) must have an annual family income which does not exceed 125% of the federal poverty income guidelines. Mississippi has two offices: 1423 North Street, Cleveland, MS 38732, (662) 846-6992 and 100 Railroad Avenue, Water Valley, MS 38965, (662) 846-6992.

By Elmetra Patterson

Master Gardener Richard Moncrief with Program Director of NBCA of MS Chester Johnson in background