Tag Archives: Volunteering

An Untapped Resource

25 Jul

Tazio Lotts - Photo.docxWork saves us from the three great evils of vice, boredom and poverty.” – Voltaire

After 50 years of success in the business world, Thomas “Tazio” Lotts considered a quiet retirement.  However, it quickly became apparent that he still had more he desired to give. At the gentle urging of his wife, Tazio sought out new opportunities.

“The mechanism of looking for a job at my age is different than for those coming straight out of college,” says Tazio. “But older workers are an untapped resource. We don’t often need much, just enough to stay off the ragged [financial] edge and active.”

While volunteering at a local consignment store, he learned about the AARP’s Senior Community Service Employment Program.  As a part of that program, Tazio began working part-time at the Workforce Solutions Capital Area Career Center in East Austin.

Tazio, who gave up his car seven years ago, utilizes public transit to get to work. However, he says he does not mind the three hour daily commute.

“My commute affords me the opportunity to read and listen to music and an eclectic mix of philosophy CDs,’ says Tazio. “Plus, I am able to continue my long-term/ongoing commitment to understanding the myriad of meanings and messages of James Joyce’s ‘Finnegans Wake.’”

Tazio is thankful for the opportunity and flexibility of his new position.  No longer interested in working a full 40-hour work week, this position allows Tazio to remain busy while bringing in income to supplement Social Security.

“You used to be able to live on Social Security,” says Tazio. “But rent, utilities and food have gone up significantly [more than Social Security].”

As a part of the Workforce Solutions team, Tazio now helps job seekers utilize the free services our Centers offer, including the online employment database WorkInTexas.com.

“I’ve gotten a different feeling about the Austin community in this job,” says Tazio.  “It’s not a charity. I’m just helping to get people ready for the jobs that are available. I’ve been really impressed with some of the people I’ve had the opportunity to work with. It’s a nice feeling to be helpful.”

“I didn’t even know I had these skill sets. They were dormant.”


About the Senior Community Service and Employment Program (SCSEP)

The Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) has been serving older workers for over 40 years.  Through that program, AARP Foundation operates 70+ community based project sites in 22 states and Puerto Rico. The mission of this program is to provide subsidized training opportunities to low income individuals age 55+ and assist them with securing permanent, unsubsidized employment. AARP Foundation remains the most successful national sponsor in both service rates and exits for employment.

SCSEP is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor with support from AARP and the AARP Foundation. The program provides comprehensive training and support that helps individuals to:

  • Obtain new job knowledge
  • Enhance existing skills
  • Gain a competitive edge in today’s job market
  • Find and maintain employment

To be eligible for SCSEP, applicants must be unemployed, 55 or over, meet income guidelines and be interested in bettering their current employment circumstances.  To see a list of locations nationwide, please visit http://www.aarpworksearch.org/Pages/Locations.aspx.




Building a New Life

30 Apr

Prior to the fall of 2012, Carol Jackson had expected to live her entire life on the island of St. Croix U.S. Virgin Islands. After fourteen years of service as an Office Professional at a local oil refinery, she unexpectedly learned she was being laid off. With the closing of the refinery, Carol was among 2,500 Cruzans – roughly 5% of the overall population of the island – suddenly looking for work.

“The job market wasn’t as plentiful now that the major private employer [had] closed,” Carol says. “So I decided it was time to move on.”

With family already in the area, the Jackson family – Carol, her husband and their three children – relocated to Austin in an effort to build a new life for themselves. Upon moving to Austin, Carol was introduced to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and began working with Jennifer Dominguez, a Career Counselor with the Workforce Solutions Capital Area’s SNAP Employment & Training program.

The SNAP E&T program includes job search assistance, professional workshops and volunteering in the community. Initially, Carol wondered why she had to do all of these things. She had worked in a professional setting for a long time and was already searching and applying for jobs. What was the big deal?

However, as she progressed in the program, Carol realized the value of the components and was able to utilize the tricks and tips she learned.  In addition, volunteering at the Blood & Tissue Center of Central Texas provided Carol with a way to immediately give back to her new community AND to network.

“Volunteering is an essential key to job searching,” says Carol. “Other than contributing your valuable time to society and getting that ‘feel good’ buzz, it allowed me to meet people. I learned more about Austin, other places to volunteer and key employers, all through networking.”

Within four months of moving to Austin, Carol was hired as an Administrative Assistant with the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department.  However, her journey does not end there. After evaluating local employment needs and trends, Carol decided to continue her education and is currently taking classes in Grant Writing and Business for Social Media.

“For those of you that are newly unemployed, my advice is to get on the ball right away on your mission to find the next opportunity,” Carol says. “It may take a few interviews to get where you want to be but a ‘Yes’ is right around the corner and just a few interviews away!”

On working with Carol, Jennifer Dominguez adds “I am grateful for the opportunity I was afforded to provide support to a customer whose professional outlook on life is positive and inspiring.”

About the SNAP E&T Program

SNAP E&T is a no-cost employment program designed to give SNAP (food stamp) recipients the assistance and support they need to find a job. Based on available funding, SNAP E&T can provide:

  • Job search assistance including job referrals
  • Support services such as transportation assistance, crisis and work-related expenses
  • Job skills assessment
  • Career counseling and planning
  • Training in basic and occupational skills
  • Work experience
  • Referrals to other community services

The SNAP E&T program is only available to SNAP (food stamp) recipients. Eligibility for SNAP is determined by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC).  For more information about the SNAP (food stamp) program including eligibility requirements and how you can apply, please visit http://www.hhsc.state.tx.us/help/Food/snap.shtml.

If you are a current SNAP (food stamp) recipient and want to learn more about SNAP E&T, please visit www.wfscapitalarea.com.


Workforce Solutions Capital Area is an equal opportunity employer. Auxiliary aids and services are available, upon request, to persons with disabilities. Relay Texas: 800.735.2989 (TDD) / 711 (Voice).