At SER, 60-year old Joe Gonzalez gained the skills he needed to re-enter the workforce and rediscovered his self-confidence.
“My name is Joe Gonzalez, I'm 60, and I'm a native Houstonian. Before I came to SER I was in a very bad divorce. I had been depressed. I was moping around, and it just seemed like there was no hope in sight.”
“Joe came to our program because he needed skills and employment,” said Yolanda Cano, Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) Career Coach. “He had a certification in a medical assistant program. But because he didn't have the experience, he was having difficulty finding employment in that field. So when he came on board, his goal was to get the experience to match his certification so he could have a better chance of finding employment”
“The manager of the senior center on Capital Street advised me to go to SER and to check it out,” says Joe. “He gave me a little bit of information about it and I decided to go. [At SER] I talked to [Outreach Coordinator] Jimmy Perez, who is very, very nice, and he gave me vital information on the [SCSEP] program.”
“When I first got to SER, I was very skeptical,” said Joe. “I kept telling myself 'who is gonna hire a 60 year old person?' I was doubting myself, and thought I'd never get a job. Jimmy Perez said ‘look, you have to stick with it. I know something's gonna happen. You're a good person. You're gonna get a job. I know you're gonna get a job.’ I said 'well, I'll go ahead and try.'"
“His computer skills were maybe intermediate,” said Yolanda. “So once he was approved for the program, we placed him here, because of his language - he is bilingual. And while he was placed here, he was able to update some skills that he had and also learn some ones, especially on the computer, and get that experience that he was looking for.”
“[At SER] I learned a lot of computer programs, like MTO and Word,” said Joe. “And also I got to meet a lot of clients and help them fill out their application. Answer phones, binding, copying, things like that. I did like the customer service part, because I love helping people.”
“One day,” said Joe, "Ms. Felicia Hines [Workforce Development Lead] came up to me and said ‘are you interested in this particular job?’ And she described it, and I said ‘Yes, I'm very interested.’ And she said ‘great. There will be people coming over here and they're going to interview you.’ I waited until they came, and they talked to me. They were very happy with what I had to say.”
“I'm a caretaker for a stroke victim,” said Joe. “And he's a very nice man. We get along together great. He doesn't talk much, but we can still communicate. I take care of him. It's a real good job. I was very stunned when I found out I was making $14 [an hour] to start.”
“[Joe] just needed that little push,” said Yolanda. “And self-confidence. I believe this program gave that to him. Because if not, he would have turned that position down or wouldn't have even bothered to go interview. This program gave him the self-confidence to at least try.”
“I really thank SER for what they did for me,” says Joe. “Because they were the people that helped me out. They made me feel very comfortable there. But I have to move on. I love my job. They're great hours, great pay. I still can't believe it. I'm very content in my life right now. I'm very happy.”
For more information about the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) , contact Yolanda Cano-Saenz at (713)773-6000 extension 153.