Sedona Forum and Job Fair for 50- to 90-year-Olds

Every week there are nearly 200 help-wanted ads posted in the local newspapers. And every week Anne Leap, senior information referral specialist for the City of Sedona, gets calls from seniors who are interested in getting a job. "The economy is not in a good place right now for seniors," notes Leap. "They are having a hard time making ends meet."

Yet despite Sedona's observable workforce shortage and a ready, willing and able senior pool of potential workers, the two are not getting together. Often seniors are intimidated about calling, says Leap, because many feel they have been out of the workforce too long. And most area employers haven't considered the possibilities of an older workforce; nor are they are aware that seniors have some wants and needs that are different from those of younger workers. These include flexible work schedules and job sharing.

Leap, who is a happily employed mature worker herself, felt something needed to be done to bridge the gap. Inspired by Governor Napolitano's Advisory Council on Aging, Leap and the city's Mature Workforce Committee planned "Sedona's First Forum and Job Fair For Ready-to-Work 50-90 Year Olds."

Forum/Job Fair on September 19

The event will take place on Friday, September 19, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Yavapai College Sedona Center, 4215 Arts Village Drive. Thanks to sponsorship by the City of Sedona and the Sedona Chamber of Commerce, the program is free and includes a bag lunch. The job fair will take place during the lunch hour from 12:45 to 2 p.m.

The agenda for the morning forum is carefully planned to give attendees what they need to learn about job possibilities in several different fields and how to return to the workforce. There is also a special breakout session for employers with information about the state's certification program for mature-worker-friendly worksites.

"Seniors bring so much to the table," notes Jennifer Wesselhoff, president and CEO of the Sedona Chamber of Commerce. "They have wisdom and knowledge." According to Wesselhoff, Sedona's senior population even includes CEOs and managers of big corporations, some of whom may want to work part-time.

Some of the highlights of the forum will include

• Audience discussion

• A report from Melanie Starns, executive director of the Governor's Advisory Council on Aging

• A panel on the workplace in Northern Arizona, moderated by Jodie Filardo, economic planner for the City of Sedona. Panelists will focus on job possibilities in the government, hospitality, medical and education sectors. There will also be ideas on how to start a business.

Panelists will include Tori Ward, human resources director for the City of Sedona; Sheldon Finkelstein, human resource director of ILX Resorts; Lori Jackson, human resources director for the Verde Valley Medical Center; Dennis Garvey, director of the Yavapai College Center for Successful Aging, and A. Roy Horn, center manager and business advisor for the Verde Valley Small Business Development Center.

The forum will end with two separate breakout sessions. Participants will be able to attend two of the following five choices:

1. Returning to work after 50: Creating Solutions and Excitement, presented by professional certified coach and holistic business consultant Sharon Hooper

2. Easy Tech Skills for Today's Workplace, presented by Melissa Kramer of

Yavapai College

3. Where the Jobs Are and the Right Resume, presented by Tori Ward from

the City of Sedona

4. Who's in Charge of the Interview Process?, presented by Dennis Garvey

of Yavapai College

6. Stay Fit to Work, presented by Anne Snowden Crosman, author of Young at Heart: Aging Gracefully with Attitude.

Room for 100 Seniors

Space at the forum and job fair is limited to the first 100 seniors who contact Anne Leap.

To reserve a spot, call Leap at (928) 203-5151 or email her at aleap@SedonaAZ.gov.

As actor George Burns, who lived to be 100, said, "As long as you're working, you stay young. Retirement at 65 is ridiculous.  When I was 65, I still had pimples."

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