Older adults struggling to find work in Piedmont Triad

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Nancy Simpson’s cover letter reads in part “Could someone please give me a chance to work? I am not dead yet.”

Nancy Simpson, 61, and her husband, 62-year-old retired Rev. Dr. Mike Simpson, have been looking for someone to give them a chance.

Mike Simpson was in the ministry for 35 years. His wife served as the church administrator while also holding other positions.

However, lately, transitioning into a new career has been a challenge for both.

Mike Simpson currently has three part-time jobs.

Nancy Simpson currently works a part-time job that provides about 10 to 12 hours a week.

“It's very frustrating just for a lot of reasons. After a while you feel like nobody really wants you because you don't get any call backs,” Nancy Simpson said.

“I have never applied for anything I didn't have the proper credentials for and as my wife indicated, you just don't hear back,” Mike Simpson added.

He believes that many of their roadblocks are a form of ageism.

Many of the unemployed or under-employed in the Piedmont who are 50 and older say even when the job market is supposedly doing better, they are still having a hard time getting solid employment.

It’s a frustration that 76-year-old Terry McGuinness can relate to.

She retired from the medical field in 2007.

“I'd still be working full-time if I knew it was going to be so hard,” she said

She wanted to get back into the workforce, but doors were closed.

“It got very depressing after a while,” she said.

With the help of the Urban League, McGuinness was able to get a receptionist position at The  Shepherd’s Center in Winston-Salem where she has been for eight years.

Kim Bell, 52, has been working to transition out of owning a home care nursing business.

“When I look for jobs there are not very many jobs first of all and they seem not age appropriate for me,” Bell said.

Bell has been working with Circles Winston-Salem, a poverty initiative under The Shalom Project.

The program requires a long-term commitment to help participants out of poverty.

“85 percent to 90 percent of those who have been in Circles are female and currently I have more who are 50 and older than those who are 30 and under,” Carol Wilson, Circles coach, said.

The program provides allies to help with participant goals -- including employment.

“It becomes a matter of not just getting a job but you want a career,” Wilson said.

Many people 50 and older hope society will realize they still have a lot to offer.

“I do have something to offer and I'm certainly willing to learn new things just because you're a little bit older doesn't mean your brain shuts down,” Nancy Simpson said.

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