Kathy Sheehan

Kathy Sheehan loved her job as coordinator of the Coalition on Elder Abuse. She helped seniors who were victims of physical, emotional, and financial abuse. And with a network of partner agencies, she planned and staged several “World Elder Abuse Day” conferences. She connected victims to critical community resources, and was passionate about her work.

Then, after eight years, funding for the program, which was run through her employer, the Mediation Center of Dutchess County, was cut. Suddenly, she was out of a job. It was devastating.

“There was a real need for the work we were doing,” said Sheehan. “We have a growing 60-and-older population, and so much of the abuse goes unreported. It was heartbreaking,” says Sheehan.

She signed up for unemployment benefits and started looking for a new job. What she discovered that it was difficult to get a job doing something she enjoyed. Just at the point that her unemployment payment cycle was ending, she heard about Jobs Waiting, and applied, figuring she had nothing to lose.

“First, they placed me in a Jobs Waiting boot camp,” she says, “and the instructor was fantastic. The philosophy of the program—to look at yourself holistically—fit right in with my social work background. I gained technical skills, such as resumé writing, social media for job searching, and interview skills. They were very encouraging.”

She said the program gave her a needed boost at just the right moment.

Meanwhile, Sheehan kept up with what was going on in the eldercare industry. After attending an elder abuse training workshop, she met a fellow social worker who had her own geriatric care consulting practice. A lightbulb went off.

“I thought, ‘I’d love to do that,’” says Sheehan. “I have a passion for eldercare and could continue the advocacy work on my own.”

Without Jobs Waiting, says Sheehan, she would not have been able to put her vision to work, or even to get started on a business plan. Her dream is to develop a practice in which she will provide seniors with an assessment, then help them navigate health and human services agencies, organizations, and other available resources to find the support they need to age in place at home, or in a supportive care community that’s right for them.

To help her reach her goal, she recently completed a 108-hour continuing education program through the Brookdale Center for Healthy Aging at Hunter College, and earned a certificate in Geriatric Care Management. The program was paid for by Jobs Waiting. She has also landed a part-time position as a Transition Specialist at Taconic Resources for Independence, which provides employment services to adults with disabilities, a position that allows her to network and stay connected in her community and to further develop her business plans.

Sheehan is ecstatic.

“I got my master’s degree when I was 54, now I’m starting a new business at age 62! Jobs Waiting helped me to tap into my strengths again—to advocate, organize, connect, and communicate. I know that I can do it.” So can you.

 

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