SCSEP Participants are Big Bonanza for West Fargo Museum

Experience Works’ Senior Community Service Employment Program is fantastic for older workers and non-profits alike, according to participant Carla Nelson, who was assigned to Bonanzaville in West Fargo.

Bonanzaville is a museum and historical village which showcases the history and cultural heritage of the Red River Valley. The attraction boasts 43 historical buildings on 12 acres and more than 400,000 artifacts. Bonanzaville, which has been a host agency for Experience Works since 2007, currently hosts two participants: Lenora Hansen and Nelson.

Troy White, Bonanzaville’s executive director, said he is very happy with the assignment of Hansen and Nelson. “It has been a great experience for us,” said Smith. “It’s great to see the pride they take in the organization and doing a good job.” Nelson is very professional, according to White. When she notices things that can be improved, she speaks up with suggestions.

Nelson, who had been out of the workforce for several years is grateful to learn customer service and receptionist skills.

“I don’t know how I would have gotten back into the working world without Experience Works,” said Nelson. “I love the atmosphere and I love the challenges,” she added.

One of her duties is meeting with visitors and directing them to exhibits she believes they would find interesting. Nelson enjoys getting to know the diverse set of people who come through Bonanzaville.

Hansen, who works in the gift shop, said she also enjoys her assignment. “I have good people to work with and a very good supervisor,” she said. Hansen said she has been trained to use computer programs such as Quickbooks. She said she enjoys learning history and meeting Bonanzaville visitors. White is pleased with the relationship between Bonanzaville and Experience Works. If there are any issues with training, he says, the Experience Works staff makes sure the participant receives the necessary attention to get up to speed.

White said having participants handle front desk duties greatly helps Bonanzaville. “It frees us up so we can offer better services to our customers,” he said. The SCSEP has a great impact on more than just Bonanzaville, according to White. The ability to offer better services enhances Bonanzaville as an attraction, which draws more tourists to the area.



New Career Takes Off at Titusville Airport

Richard Britton, 67, had been laid off from a job as a machinist and wanted to find a different line of work. Jim Kuhn, president of the volunteer-operated Titusville Airport Authority, wanted to hire its first paid employee. However he knew convincing the county would be unlikely because of budget concerns.

When Experience Works asked the airport to be a community service partner, the door of opportunity was opened for Britton and Kuhn. It was after extensive training through the Experience Works Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP), that the airport authority hired Britton as their first paid employee.

Britton, of Titusville, enrolled in the program after his August 2010 layoff. “I was burnt out as a machinist, working the same job all day indoors. When my job ended, I knew I needed to work again, but I needed training to do something else,” he said.

Titusville Airport Authority hired him as building and grounds manager in January. The timing was perfect according to Kuhn because the airport’s pool of volunteers had started to dry up over the last few years and the county funded the paid position.

After his long stint indoors as a machinist, Richard says he welcomes the outdoors and the experience of having a variety of jobs daily. “Experience Works SCSEP is a valuable asset to the older person who is looking to get job training,” said Britton “They can learn enough to get hired full time.”

Kuhn lauded the quality of maintenance Britton has provided the airport. “He’s an extremely capable employee,” Kuhn said of Britton.Britton is currently supervising a new SCSEP participant who is receiving training similar to his at the airport. While Britton describes training as challenging, he says the participant is picking up a great deal.

SCSEP Participant Helps Keep the Past Stitched Together

LA cropped photo summer 2013.jpg

The Cottonport Museum provides a glimpse of days gone by when the small rural town played a big role in the cotton industry. Among the hand painted murals, photos, tools, and special documents you’ll find 67-year old Delores Trahan anxiously awaiting the arrival of visitors. She give tours, arranges displays, and runs the museum store. 

Averaging nearly 1,000 visitors each year from across North America, the museum relies solely on volunteers to keep its door open.  According to Friends of the Museum board member Donna Mayeax, its partnership with Experience Works SCSEP and having participants like Trahan offers the extra support and stability that is needed to manage the day-to-day activities, including enabling the museum to be open an additional day each week.  “We just couldn’t do it without Donna,” says Mayeax, who oversees the museum.  “She is dependable, dedicated and does a great job. With no paid staff, that’s crucial in our ability to serve the community.”

LA image Cottonport museum summer 2013

Among the many interesting displays and outreach activities, Trahan says her favorite is the quilt show sponsored by the museum every year in October.  Along with helping to organize the event that attracts quilters from many states, she looks forward to working with the many local seasoned quilters – one is nearing the age of 100 – who meet regularly at the museum throughout the year to demonstrate the age-old art of hand quilting.  She says she is always amazed at the beautiful treasures that eventually hang proudly on display or are available for purchase during the show. 

“It’s amazing to watch them work,” says Trahan. “Even though I can’t help them stitch – I can sure sell them when it’s time for the quilt show,” she laughs. And sell she does.  Last year, her booth filled with cookbooks, quilts and more raised over $800 for the museum.  

"In my previous work history, I was always behind the scenes – but not anymore!  It is great to know I’m out front, truly making a difference.”    

Photos: Delores Trahan, SCSEP participant

SCSEP Participants Help Keep Fairground Running Year 'Round

OR image Josephine Co Fairgrounds summer 20113Sixty-one-year-old Maureen Doyle says she doesn’t have any memories of going to the fair as a child.  Having a father who was interested in car racing put her at the race track instead of the midway, but as a participant – all that’s changed. 

Through Doyle’s assignment as an office clerk for The Josephine County Fairgrounds, she is learning fair operations inside out, along with all the many other year round activities held at the fairgrounds such as horse racing, music festivals, and 4-H activities. It’s quite a different work environment than she’s used to as a former bookkeeper, but Doyle admits she is enjoying every minute.

As the point person for the fairgrounds office, she performs a multitude of clerical and customer service duties including answering the phone, providing directions, and coordinating vendors.  “It’s a very busy place and I love it!  Who would have ever thought I’d be here?” she says.    

Fairgrounds Interim Director Mary Groves is very equally pleased with the new partnership that began earlier in the year. “Maureen is a real trooper and handling our front desk like a pro,” she says. “Without her, our small staff would be spread way too thin and it would be much more difficult to get things done.” Groves goes on to say that Doyle also creates spreadsheets, and other reports upon request, which is an added bonus.OR photo summer 2013

More than 70,000 people attend this year’s fair and Doyle has newfound confidence knowing she played an integral part in its success.  What’s more, she had the opportunity to create a new memory as she and her husband attended the fair for the first time.  “It was exciting!” she said of the bustling activity as they made their way to the monster truck show.  “I really felt proud knowing I had something to do with it, and my husband was proud too –and as long as he was smiling, I was smiling.” 

Top photo L to R: Mary Groves, Josephine County Fairgrounds interim director; Maureen Doyle, SCSEP participant

Bottom photo: Maureen Doyle, SCSEP participant

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