February 3-9, 2016

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Work Articles


Transparency: One of watercolors' wonders

Kathryn (Kass) Dymecki won early recognition for her talents when, as a young art student majoring in Textile and Design at Moore College of Art and Design, she won a prestigious P.A.B. Widener Traveling Fellowship. That gave her the freedom to travel and study in Europe for four months.  After graduating from Moore in 1953, she went on to work as a fabric colorist in New York City and as a designer for the Masland Duraleather Company in Philadelphia.  

Her artistic career was sidelined after she divorced, becoming a single parent. For financial reasons, she took an administrative position at Philadelphia University, working her way up to the Director of Personnel, while continuing to dabble in a variety of arts and crafts after her 9-to-5 job. Then, in her 60s, she started taking watercolor classes, studying under Feeney McFarlane at the Woodmere Art Museum in Chestnut Hill and Kass Morin Freeman at the Oreland Art Center.


Dr. Helfand: Longtime podiatry pioneer

At one time he thought he would be a musician; he also considered dentistry. But in the end, inspired by his uncle, George Helfand, Arthur (Art) E. Helfand decided to go into what he calls the “family business:” podiatry. Between him and his late uncle, there have been members of the family in the profession for nearly 100 years.

An inductee to the Podiatric Hall of Fame, Helfand is renowned for his pioneering contributions to “podogeriatrics:” clinical care, teaching and writing focused on older podiatry patients. That interest began well before geriatrics came into its own as a medical specialty. “I grew up in a house of 11 people, and I was always around older people,” he says. “This included my grandmother, who had a lot of foot problems.”


Healing with sound

When Katryn Lavanture, M.A., a holistic psychotherapy and energetic healing practitioner, first experienced sound healing, she almost quit graduate school.

“All I could think was ‘this feels like home’ and all I wanted to do was learn sound healing,” she said. “I came to my senses, and didn’t quit graduate school, but eventually learned sound healing and have been in love with it ever since.”

Lavanture explained that sound healing is designed to create altered states of consciousness that open your being to your true nature, expanding the channels for your essential self to slip in and stay. She uses Himalayan singing bowls, gongs and tuning forks to conduct sound healing sessions.

“The instruments powerfully quiet the mind, harmonizing brain wave patterns, dissolving boundaries between mind, body and spirit, allowing you to slip into states of bliss and well-being,” she said.

She has a dozen ancient singing bowls that were handmade, created to be used in ceremony and meditation. "These bowls have been with me for some years now, and have been working together, resonating with one another in my healing sessions and sound meditations. When they are laid on or around you, you are bathed in the sacred vibrations of divine consciousness,” she said.

Five gongs ranging in size from 24” to 36” are placed around the massage table so the recipient is bathed in their sound along with the singing bowls.

“The gong voice is powerful and enveloping, even when they are played gently. I don’t bang on the gongs; I play them smoothly so they build until they almost play themselves. I’m simply creating the invitation for them to sing to you in the voices that best suit your soulful needs,” she said.

Upon going into a sound healing session, Lavanture asks clients to bring an intention with them. “Some examples of what people come to these sessions for are relationship issues, health concerns or life work questions,” she said. "Those who are in tune with this come off the table with clarity around an issue they are dealing with, whether it is a relationship, or looking at their life work. It is extremely powerful to see the transition take place.”


"The Sulimay Way"

Joseph (Joe) Sulimay, Sr., his late wife, Rita, and five of their seven children have gone into the hair business.  It’s known as  “The Sulimay Way." The family saga is now on the subject of a YouTube video. (Go to and search for “The Sulimay Way.”)

As a young man, Joe would have been surprised by that turn of events. While his father, grandfather and great-grandfather, and many of his 15 siblings were barbers by trade, Joe had no intention of following in their footsteps. 


Making house calls was his calling

Alfred Stillman, M.D. was a renowned gastroenterologist when, at age 57, he decided to explore a new direction in his career, and wound up returning to what he calls the “classical role of the physician.” 

Stillman had relocated to Philadelphia from Virginia, when his wife, physician Paula Stillman, took a new job with a university health system here. Not long after, he decided to explore new opportunities himself by pursuing a fellowship in geriatrics at Albert Einstein Medical Center – mindful of the growing demographics of that age group and the high demand for physicians with that specialty.  


"How to Be the Perfect Grandpa"

A longtime writer/editor, Bryna Paston  always has been a keen observer of people. That surely includes  people who are grandparents, as she and her husband are. 

She's been so keen, in fact,  that Paston wrote a book called  "How To Be The Perfect Grandma"  (Sourcebooks, Inc. 2010) with tongue in cheek sketches of grandmothering styles in the modern era.
The book, described as “Erma Bombeckian,”  is honest, funny and a must- read for those who presently claim the title, and those who aspire to it. 

Among its salient pointers: keep your opinions to yourself; listen politely to instructions when you're about to babysit for your grandkids...then do what you want; prepare for parental excesses and work around them.


Chef Aliza Green's culinary journey

Award-winning chef, author and food journalist Aliza Green says that by the time she was 10 years old, she had already begun to master the art of cooking and pleasing the palates of friends and family. As a child, she says she traveled extensively with her family, and was exposed to different foods from around the world. Those childhood experiences led to a lifetime of culinary pursuits.

“Now I get to indulge in all my loves – traveling, reading and cooking,” says Green, who describes herself as a “chef/author.” I wear many hats, but my favorite hat of all is that of a communicator, so writing gives me the ability to share what I know. But being a chef is a more direct connection to people through the food I create. Having everything come out just right, and watching people enjoy what I've created is very, very satisfying.”


Painter finds beauty in the mundane

“I’m the king of late bloomers,” says Robert (Bob) Arnosky, 63. Arnosky’s acrylic painting, “Your Purchase,” is on display at City Hall, 5th floor this month for Philadelphia Corporation for Aging’s 13th annual “Celebrate Arts and Aging.”

 A special artists' reception, which free and open to the public, will be held  there this evening, May 6. (See information at the end of this article.)

Born into a family of artists, Arnosky had a passion for drawing from early childhood, and pursued drawing and painting throughout his adult life. But it was not until his 50s, following cancer surgery, when he looked at life in a new way. 

 “I became fearless,” he says. With his wife’s encouragement, he retired from his regular jobs to devote himself fulltime to art.


Celebrating Polish culture & customs

If the explorer Ponce de Leon had met Theresa Romanowski, he would have stopped searching for the Fountain of Youth. Romanowski, 68, administrative assistant for Polish American Social Services (PASS), has the zest of 10 teens. “My secret is: I love my work,” she says. “I love celebrating Polish culture.” 
Although she was born in America, Romanowski grew up enfolded in the embrace of Polish language and culture. Her parents met and married in Poland. “My father moved to the U.S. in 1938 and my mother came in ‘39,” she says. “Even though they were married the government didn’t let them come together. They were lucky to get out before the war.” Romanowski, an only child, was born in Philadelphia and grew up in the Port Richmond section. “We spoke only Polish at home,” she says. “When I first went to school, the other kindergarteners and the nuns taught me English.”          

Both the language and customs were woven through her childhood. On Holy Saturday, the day between Good Friday and Easter, she would take her basket consisting of ham, cheese, colored eggs, sausage, bread, butter, lamb, horseradish, salt and pepper, and Babka (Easter bread cake) to church to be blessed. 


Artist turned graphic novelist

Art wasn’t considered a viable profession for women in the 1970s. But Kay Wood pushed through all the negativity to follow her passion, even after her high school guidance counselor advised her not to pursue the arts. “It wasn’t considered a serious career for women,” she says. “I studied illustration at Philadelphia College of the Arts (now University of the Arts), because it was as close to painting as my parents would let me,” says Wood.


Help for older job seekers

If you're looking for a job, don't be discouraged. There are legitimate services and employment programs available to help you.


Their songs create community, healing

“Singing is very old for our people,” says Liberian immigrant Fatu Gayflor, who was once known as the ‘golden voice of Liberia.’ “Everyone sings. We use songs to call people together. We celebrate with singing. When someone dies, people cry and people sing. We use songs for everything.”

During the Liberian civil wars between 1989 and 2003, Gayflor says, singing was essential. “When we lived in the refugee camps, we had to adapt in the system, and we had to know we were there for each other. We would take our voices and do traditional singing to talk out our sorrow.”    



Teaching and learning at Graterford

“It’s been an amazing experience to find my teaching voice inside a maximum security prison,” says Marjorie Jones, 74. She teaches a weekly “Women in American History” class to 20 convicted felons.

Her class takes place on Tuesdays, at Pennsylvania State Correctional Institution at Graterford (commonly referred to as Graterford Prison) – a formidable concrete building set in the midst of a stretch of farmland.

A course about women might seem an odd fit for the tough guys Jones teaches. Not so, she says, calling her students “thoughtful and avid, engaged and caring.”


He helps seniors conquer computers

BillThompson has made it his mission to help older adults overcome the all-too-common technophobia that can prevent them from taking advantage of the gadgets that have become all-pervasive. The biggest obstacle is fear of failure, which, he says, age-appropriate training can help overcome.

“Seniors are often made to feel like they’re no longer viable,” says Thompson, a certified International Computer Driving License (ICDL) instructor and software trainer in Philadelphia. “All people with grey hair are not senile, nor are they dumb. It’s the way the information is presented to the audience that impedes – or enhances – learning,” he says.


Older workers are empowered to succeed

At age 74, Lena Hicks, has overcome two mild strokes and is once again proudly and gainfully employed. In fact, she is doubly invested in the working world these days.

As the job developer for the City of Philadelphia’s Mayor’s Commission on Aging (MCOA), she helps to research, solicit and advocate for job opportunities for other older job seekers. 

Hicks credits the Title V federal Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) for this satisfying new chapter in her career, and she recommends SCSEP to seniors who, like her, “are not ready to give up.” 


Agencies help job seekers

The Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) is a community service and work-based training program for low-income unemployed individuals 55 and older. SCSEP is funded by the Older Americans Act and is administered by the U.S. Department of Labor.

The program provides a small stipend for an average of 20 hours a week of training for participants to enhance their skills or to prepare them to re-enter the workforce.

They are placed in a wide variety of community service activities at nonprofit and public facilities. SCSEP is intended to serve as a bridge to unsubsidized employment.

Job search assistance and placement is available to individuals looking to re-enter the public or private sector.

 In Philadelphia, SCSEP programs are administered by five organizations:


She created a place to call home

If necessity is the mother of invention, add a strong feeling of community involvement to the mix and you might come up with someone like Mary Ellen Graham.

Graham, an academic, educator, writer and the mother of six, is the force behind the creation of My Place Germantown, a fully renovated, safe, spacious house that twelve previously homeless men now call home. 

The seed probably was planted in 1991 when Graham joined St Vincent DePaul Church, which is famous for its outreach programs and its social justice focus. Along the way, she was seriously involved in several community projects, even traveling to Africa at one point where she was offered a unique, fulltime position at a university in Tanzania.         


Mother's need led her to a new career

When Im Ja P. Choi’s 85-year-old mother underwent surgery for stomach cancer, a language barrier nearly stymied any chance of a recovery. Choi’s mother was hospitalized periodically for seven months and weighed just 62 pounds when she was finally released from the hospital.

“Her condition required 24-hour care; yet, I could not send her to nursing home,” says Choi.

“Mom didn’t speak any English and only ate traditional Korean food.  If she couldn’t communicate with the staff and wouldn’t eat, how can she last in a nursing home?” says Choi.


Help for hopeful entrepreneurs

Thinking of starting a business? Maybe you have a great idea, a new product or service; or you’ve recently retired or been laid off and are ready to go out on your own. There are many free resources to help you.

According to the Small Business Development Corporation (SBDC) of Pennsylvania, research and planning are two of the keys to success.  SBDC offers many resources, including an online Tutorial for Starting a Business The U.S. Small Business Administration also offers resources, including a tutorial tailored to encore entrepreneurs. 

Personalized help is available from volunteers with SCORE: Mentors to America’s Small Businesses, which has 364 chapters nationwide, funded primarily by the federal Small Business Administration (SBA). To find a chapter convenient to you, go to the website and enter your zip code.


Think strategically

Business cards, brochures and websites are all important, but without a sound marketing plan, they won’t produce sales. Retired ad agency executive Steve Lember volunteers with SCORE: Mentors to America’s Small Businesses  to help clients think through what makes their business stand out, and works with them on developing a marketing strategy that will capitalize on those qualities. 

He says that in the 10 years he’s been volunteering with SCORE, he’s worked with 1,062 clients. SCORE volunteers have expertise in various areas, and will be matched with clients based on their needs.

As an example, he cited a husband and wife he worked with who had purchased a franchise for providing in-home care to senior citizens. They received some startup support, including training and marketing materials; but they needed a localized marketing strategy.

“When they first came in they had no idea what their goals were, or what their budget was,” says Lember.  He advised them to evaluate their costs versus revenues, research the competition, and set goals for a year in the future, which helped them focus, he says.

“We gave them some direction on targeting referral sources – doctors’ offices, hospital social workers,” Lember says. Among the strategies he suggested was to provide articles to local newspapers on how to care for an elderly parent, positioning their agency as the experts on the subject. Two years later, “They’re still in business, and growing.”

Another client who came to SCORE wanted to start a catering business serving child care centers.


Government provides startup support

Both the federal and state governments have programs and resources to provide small businesses with startup support, technical assistance and help finding financing.

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has a district office for the Philadelphia area, and helps fund several other organizations. Each offers a different range of services and resources, which can include counseling; online or local workshops; loans; technical assistance; and networking opportunities.


Encore career: capturing life stories

 Marianne Waller discovered her personal passion in her 60s, when restructuring of the ad agency where she was creative director prompted her to rethink her career.

 “I was considering becoming a life coach and was doing some research about career changes online. In the process, I came across a website about personal historians. There happened to be a conference of personal historians taking place in Denver right after the life coaching conference I was planning to attend there,” she remembers.

 That Association of Personal Historians (APH) conference proved pivotal.  “Everybody there loved what they were doing,” she says. “A lot of people had made it a second career. I wanted to be one of them."

Encore career
 Seeing life through others’ eyes in her “encore career” as a personal historian has been a tremendously rewarding experience, says this Center City resident.

 “There is no such thing as a boring life,” according to Waller; although many of her subjects demur that their lives are indeed boring when first questioned. “There are the lessons learned, the way people define themselves, the people they’ve interacted with during their lifetime…”

Waller’s subjects so far have ranged from 70 to 90+ years of age. Most of her business has come from Baby Boomers “who realize that their parents are not going to live forever and who want to capture their stories,” she says.


Job hunting? Here's help


Older workers generally have greater job security than do younger ones, but once unemployed, they have a harder time finding a new job, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The current U.S. unemployment rate is 8%; that has traditionally been much lower among older workers , but the gap is closing. A study done by the Government Accountability Office found a dramatic increase in the unemployment rate between 2007, when it was 3.1% among those 55+ - and 2011, when it was 6%.

Ironically, the study found that some of the difficulties older workers face when job hunting are due to their experience. While experience can be an asset, it can also limit the number of available jobs and put prospective employees in a higher salary bracket, making them less attractive to an employer.

For others, it may be that their skills have not kept up with the needs of an increasingly technological job. At the same time, older workers whose savings have been diminished by the recession may be staying in the work force longer - or going back to work.

“Many older people are back in the job market either because they want to work or they have to,” says Bruce Bornmann, chairperson of Philadelphia Corporation for Aging's (PCA) Mature Workers Task Force, a coalition of non-profit and public organizations which coordinate employment and training services for mature workers in Philadelphia.


Providers are the heart of Dom Care homes

A safe home and companionship are among the most basic human needs. For the past 35 years, Philadelphia Corporation for Aging’s (PCA) Domiciliary, or “Dom” Care program has provided both to thousands of adults who cannot live independently due to physical, emotional or mental impairments.

Through Dom Care, people age 18+ in need of a caring, supportive home are placed with individuals or families throughout the community.

Providers like 75-year-old Dolores Luckey are the heart of the program. Luckey, a retired nurse’s aide, has been a Dom Care provider in her southwest Philadelphia home for 18 years. “This becomes home for people who have no other place to go," she says.


Creativity blossoms in small spaces


When people retire, they want to say goodbye to fighting traffic, office politics and planning their life according to a clock.

Seniors who want to keep working may have the same goals. Some are discovering the luxury of working at home, managing their own time to make the most of their talents.

Three, at The Watermark at Logan Square, have designed home “studios” that suit them perfectly.

Good light’ for painting
Meyer Shulick, an 81-year-old widower, has retired as an art teacher, but not as an artist. He has remodeled part of his one-bedroom 13th-floor apartment to accommodate his paints and easels. It faces northeast with large windows that afford just the kind of light an artist needs. He is currently working on a 48-by-32-inch oil painting for his daughter.

Even on a cloudy day I get good light up here, and I even laid down a wooden floor over the existing rug so that I could move things around more easily.”

Much of Shulick’s work has been dedicated to Philadelphia, the city he loves. His painting of “Boathouse Row” recently earned jurors’ recognition for the national 2012 Expressions Calendar, featuring the work of artists selected from 25 Watermark communities nationwide.

Shulick is also a former pilot, but had to give it up because of a stroke; plays classical guitar; and is working on a scale-model of the sailing ship The C.W. Morgan.

“Keep involved and stay active. Keep moving, even if it’s just going for a walk every day. Do something you’ve always loved — especially if you can do it from home,” Shulick advises other seniors.


Retiree finds new life with Pilates studio


Scenes of Historic Germantown are on one wall, but the studio, at 5904 Greene St., is squarely in the present, offering an exercise intended to heal and rejuvenate.

Jeff Smith began Pilates in Germantown in 2008 after retiring as a communications and English teacher in the Philadelphia public schools.

Smith saw a business opportunity when the owner of a yoga program (with Pilates component) he was attending decided to close and relocate.

The Germantown business district has changed as old established institutions have moved on, but some businesses remained and some new ones, like Smith's, have developed. Born and raised in Germantown, Smith says, "I don't think I could have started a business any place but here. I'm doing this because I believe in it and I believe in my community."

Smith is not an instructor. His trainer, Heather Sheridan, is certified, and takes over when students arrive.


Local author's travel to Turkey produces story of power, lust and revenge

Twenty years ago, Frances Webb traveled to Turkey with an Elderhostel group in order to get a feel for the land, the flora and fauna, and the Roman Empire.  She steeped herself in the surprisingly quirky history of the Roman empire in the fourth century, returned and undertook an intensive study of the history, which included the physiology and sexuality of eunuchs.

Last year, just after her 81st birthday, all that work came to fruition in the form of her first published novel, Innocence and Gold Dust,  which the publisher calls “a timeless story of power and revenge, alive with real history.”


Poet laments end of city's factory era

Poet Jean Grenfell, 70, writes of what she knows. In her free-verse poem “Philly Factories,” the retired factory worker reflects on the end of the city’s  manufacturing heyday and the decline of the once-thriving neighborhoods surrounding these former factories.

“There used to be a factory on every corner of this city
North and south and east and west, Philly made the very best
From Stetson hats to Quaker lace…
And then one day I looked around. …
And there ain’t no factories to be found…”


Computer repair

Computer not working as it should? Repair services are available
Geek Squad, others
on call to set it up,
solve problems
By Pam George
Own a computer long enough and you’ll become familiar with one of the following scenarios:
• A scroll of seemingly meaningless computer code takes over your screen.
• The computer reports that operating files are missing.
• The computer simply doesn’t work properly—if at all.
• The screen goes dark.
Whom can you call? Quite a few services fit the bill. Among the best known is the Geek Squad, launched by Robert Stephens in Minneapolis in 1994. Purchased by Best Buy, the service is now offered in every Best Buy store.
Geek Squad members are available 24/7. You can call them on the phone, find them online, visit them in a Best Buy store or request a house call, made in VW bugs by “Agents” wearing clip-on bow ties and white shirts.
Virus removal not enough
“We cover any and all needs, from training to setup to recovering data from old computers to viruses and hardware problems,” says Brian Valdez, a Geek Squad Double Agent, who covers the Philadelphia region from the Deptford, N.J., Best Buy.
The most common concerns involve dealing with virus issues or setting up a wireless system. Just removing the virus may not be enough. “Like a cancer in the body, a virus can affect the way the machine works,” Valdez explains.
EasyTech, Staples’ answer to Best Buy, offers technicians who help set up computers and handle repairs, which range from virus removal to hard-drive recovery of information to diagnostics.
The big-box stores aren’t the only companies catering to the home market. Drexel Hill-based House Call Computer Guru primarily covers Delaware, Montgomery and Chester counties, but often comes into Philadelphia.
Back up your data
Bardissi Enterprises in Hatfield also services home computers. Owner George Bardissi says many of his calls stem from hardware-related computer crashes. There are times when technicians can recover information and/or repair the computer. There are other times when it’s a total loss. “We always hate to deliver that message,” he says.
Some sources of  help:
Geek Squad: 1-800-GEEKSQUAD or
Staples Easy Tech:
House Call Computer Guru: 610-636-5455
Bardissi Enterprises: 215-853-2266 or


Computer repair

Computer not working as it should? Repair services are available
Geek Squad, others
on call to set it up,
solve problems
By Pam George
Own a computer long enough and you’ll become familiar with one of the following scenarios:
• A scroll of seemingly meaningless computer code takes over your screen.
• The computer reports that operating files are missing.
• The computer simply doesn’t work properly—if at all.
• The screen goes dark.
Whom can you call? Quite a few services fit the bill. Among the best known is the Geek Squad, launched by Robert Stephens in Minneapolis in 1994. Purchased by Best Buy, the service is now offered in every Best Buy store.
Geek Squad members are available 24/7. You can call them on the phone, find them online, visit them in a Best Buy store or request a house call, made in VW bugs by “Agents” wearing clip-on bow ties and white shirts.
Virus removal not enough
“We cover any and all needs, from training to setup to recovering data from old computers to viruses and hardware problems,” says Brian Valdez, a Geek Squad Double Agent, who covers the Philadelphia region from the Deptford, N.J., Best Buy.
The most common concerns involve dealing with virus issues or setting up a wireless system. Just removing the virus may not be enough. “Like a cancer in the body, a virus can affect the way the machine works,” Valdez explains.
EasyTech, Staples’ answer to Best Buy, offers technicians who help set up computers and handle repairs, which range from virus removal to hard-drive recovery of information to diagnostics.
The big-box stores aren’t the only companies catering to the home market. Drexel Hill-based House Call Computer Guru primarily covers Delaware, Montgomery and Chester counties, but often comes into Philadelphia.
Back up your data
Bardissi Enterprises in Hatfield also services home computers. Owner George Bardissi says many of his calls stem from hardware-related computer crashes. There are times when technicians can recover information and/or repair the computer. There are other times when it’s a total loss. “We always hate to deliver that message,” he says.
Some sources of  help:
Geek Squad: 1-800-GEEKSQUAD or
Staples Easy Tech:
House Call Computer Guru: 610-636-5455
Bardissi Enterprises: 215-853-2266 or


Acclaimed nationally, but Philly's his home

Emil DeJohn’s designs have graced Presidential daughters Julie and Tricia Nixon, performing artist Barbra Streisand, and the covers of Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Glamour, and other top national fashion magazines. He has designed his own private label collections for Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman, and Neiman Marcus.

Yet the designer, now age 73, has never been uprooted from life in in his native Philadelphia, commuting to New York as needed because “my friends and family” are here, he says.


Spotting and fighting age discrimination

Age discrimination is a major problem in the workplace, according to   Philadelphia employment attorney David Koller. Forty is the magic number, he says — the threshold at which federal and state age discrimination protections kick in. 

Consider the following scenarios:
       •An individual 40+ is terminated for a reason that is not accurate and replaced with someone in his/her 20s who is less credentialed and qualified for the job.
       • Out of a workforce of 100 people, 20 are laid off and most, if not all, are above age 40. Out of the 80 who remain employed, the percentage disproportionately favors younger workers.
        • An older worker experiences fewer opportunities for training and upgrading his/her skills and, after years of excellent performance reviews, receives poor evaluations. Requests are denied to work on cutting-edge or high-visibility projects.
        • An older worker is passed over for a promotion in favor of someone younger and less qualified.


Age Discrimination in the Workplace

Many Americans age 55 to 70
are continuing to work past the standard retirement age and/or are returning to work, according to a national survey of aging workers by the MetLife Mature Market Institute® 

The reasons vary: the desire to stay productive;  a nest egg decimated by the downturn; or insufficient savings to begin with. Yet individuals in that age group can have a harder time getting hired and experts say a “gray ceiling” can also come in to play for those who are currently employed.

Workers 55 and over have been especially hard hit in the economic downturn. Older workers not only are enduring record-high levels of unemployment, but also stay jobless longer than others, according to the U.S. Labor Department

Older workers may battle a number of stereotypes, including that they can't or won't learn new skills; aren't flexible or adaptable; and take more sick days than younger workers, according to the website, which refutes all of these.


Becoming a Dom Care provider

Dom Care providers come from all walks of life. Some are widows or older couples; others are young families. All are compassionate people willing to welcome those with special needs into their homes and provide care for them.

In return for providing services and taking the consumer into their home, Dom Care providers receive a monthly stipend for each individual, up to a maximum of three persons. Interested Dom Care providers must complete a certification process to ensure that their homes meet fire, health and safety regulations.


Test Drive Your Dream Career

Maybe you've always dreamed of raising bison, breeding horses, or owning a bed and breakfast.

Maybe your friends, spouse and children think you're crazy for dreaming of such things. Here's a low-risk way to find out if you're cut out for the career of your dreams: a "Vocation Vacation."

Right this minute, eight bed and breakfast owners from Oregon to New Hampshire, are waiting to show you the ropes, and let you see what it's really like. Two days of one-on-one mentoring range from $549 to $999. That's a lot cheaper than buying a property first and finding out afterwards whether it's a chance to "meet lots of new and interesting people"  or if it feels more like "never being alone in your own house."
Meanwhile, out in Wisconsin, Georgia Derrick and Jim Alten are ready to give you a three-day whirl of mending fences, collecting hay, deworming, weighing and herding 300 bison, and learning how to manage and make a living on a ranch.

Pulling these opportunities together into VocationVacations® was the brainchild of Brian Kurth.


Library provides lifeline for job seekers

As tough economic times continue, an increasing number of job seekers have come to rely on the job-hunting resources offered by the Free Library of Philadelphia’s Workplace Job and Career Center.  Some are in desperate situations.

“There was a man who came to us last year because his business had failed,” recalls the Free Library of Philadelphia’s (FLP) Paul Savedow. “His circumstances had fallen so low, he was actually living out of his car.

“He was somebody who needed to know how to set up an email account, how to job search on the internet, and how to create a new  résumé,” says Savedow. “We were able to help him with all of those things, which  enabled him to get a job on his own. He recently secured a job as a recruiter for a career school.”  

Housed at the FLP Parkway Central Library at 1901 Vine Street, this walk-in center draws job seekers and career-changers of all ages and levels of experience, an estimated 40% of them age 50 and over, according to Savedow.


Job hunting? Polish your résumé first

One of the first things job hunters should do is develop a polished, professional-looking résumé, says Judy Cherry, coordinator of the Career Solutions for 55+ program of JEVS Human Services.

Career Solutions is open to Philadelphians 55 and older, and provides career counseling, job readiness workshops, résumé and job interview preparation, access to a computer lab and online job leads.  

In addition to rewriting the résumé, those uncomfortable with technology should upgrade essential computer skills. "Keep up-to-date with software and technology, whether through classes, on the job, part-time or volunteer work," is the advice from the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry Career Guide


Careers: better on the rebound?

Change can be painful, but career counselor Marc Jacobs has some great stories about people making the most out of the second half of life.

There’s the successful fundraiser, for instance, who was laid off when fundraising crashed nationwide as a result of the ‘Great Recession.’

He was in his early 60s when he had to make a new start. Now, Jacobs says, he owns a café and is having a great time.


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When’s the last time you looked for a job? If it’s been awhile, chances are you remember waiting for Sunday, when the classified section of the Inquirer would be at its fattest.
Browsing through the employment listings, marker in hand, struggling to figure out the logic behind the listings and circling any and all possibilities is now a thing of the past. Yesterday there were two – that’s right – two – jobs listed in the print edition classified section of the Philadelphia Inquirer. And it’s not because of the recession. All the jobs now are listed online. In fact, you have to wonder why those two jobs were in the print edition – what were they thinking?

Online job listings and related services have become big business. As with the newspaper classified sections, employers pay to list jobs with online search engines. Some of the biggest and best-known job search engines are monster, careerbuilder and, for jobs in the nonprofit sector, idealist. The Inquirer hasn’t given up on the classifieds; it’s partnered with to have its own distinctive online service.  Phillyjobs offers the option of searching by travel route and will also show you the jobs on a map, which you don’t get on the regular monster site; but all the same jobs appear to be listed.  


Creative casting breaks barriers


The role of Hector in British playwright Alan Bennett's The History Boys was written for a boisterous, charismatic Englishman. But last year at the Arden Theatre, it was played by Frank X, an urbane African American well-known to Philadelphia theater-goers.

It was a part he never dreamed he'd get, he says. In casting this part, he says race might have "been an obstacle 20 years ago, and you still run into it from time to time. But I've been lucky that the people I've worked with have been able to go beyond that."

"Frank is one of Philadelphia's most sought-after actors," says Arden artistic director Terrence J. Nolen. "I was thrilled that he was available.

Critics were overwhelmingly positive about his performance. Nolen went on to cast him in two other roles not written for black actors - Duke Montague in Romeo and Juliet and the villainous Captain Hook in Peter Pan

Frank Xavier (his stage name was his childhood nickname) has appeared in well over 100 productions here and in New York, Princeton, Seattle, Louisville and Washington, D.C. In nearly 30 years, he has played lovers, strangers, artists, fools and some of the most celebrated roles ever written for the stage. In 1996, he won the Barrymore Award -- Philadelphia's most prestigious theatrical honor -- as Best Lead Actor in InterAct Theatre Company's production of Lonely Planet

Not destined to be a doctor

Raised in West Philadelphia, Xavier wanted to be a dancer after seeing a production of Godspell. He got a taste of show business when he appeared at the Academy of Music with his school dance troupe. Later, inspired by Walter Kerr's writings in the New York Times, "I thought it would be the most amazing thing to write a play."

But he won a pre-med scholarship to Johns Hopkins University and planned to become a physician. A playwriting course changed his mind. He transferred to New York University, and when a professor suggested he try acting to better understand how to write plays, he discovered he had a knack for it.
Financial constraints caused him to abandon his studies in 1981. Back in Philadelphia, he went on auditions and began to get parts. He thought acting would be a "momentary glitch, a thing to keep me busy for a year or two until I settled down to writing plays."

Instead, acting became his profession, and, except for brief stints in other areas, he remained in Philadelphia, working odd jobs by day, and acting in the evenings on local stages, doing voice-overs for TV commercials and "being cut from negligible motion pictures."


She gives help, hope, healing through art

Nancy Collier remembers vividly the call she received a year ago. The caller’s elderly husband had suffered a stroke that left him paralyzed on his right side and unable to speak. “He sits around all day watching TV and follows me around when I clean,” the woman said, adding that the stress of the situation was becoming unbearable.

But all that has changed over the past year. Collier's patient, once a master carpenter, now produces  drawings and paintings notable for their precise attention to detail as well as their beauty. “We started simply at first,” Collier recalls of his early sessions with her. “He wanted to draw. In the beginning, I had him copy images laid upside down upon the table — a technique frequently used with brain-damaged patients to stimulate the brain’s more creative right hemisphere to take over."


She carries a torch for glass - and sea creatures


When Patti Dougherty talks about glass, it sounds like the elixir of life. And if that seems like a paradox (because after all, who would drink glass?) it's no more so than glass itself.

People have been making glass for more than 4,000 years. But we still don't understand it. Nobel Prize-winning physicist Philip W. Anderson has called the nature of glass the "deepest and most intersting unsolved problem in solid state theory."

It melts when heated, then solidifies - or seems to. In fact, glass has the random atomic structure of a liquid even when it is solid. Once solidified, it's fragile - but strong. For those who work with it, those paradoxes are utterly seductive.

"It's molten - you dip your blow pipe in and you begin to make a shape, and if you don't like it, you bag it and start over," Dougherty says.

"I like the fluidity of the material. And there's something about the way light can transform color in a liquid." (Click here to see a video of Dougherty in her studio.)

She started out as a ceramics major, but when one of her teachers introduced her to glass, she was hooked.

"It was more immediate than ceramics, where there are so many steps - build it, let it dry, fire it, glaze it, fire it, she said." The whole process can take a week. "I like the spontaneous quality of glass, and the immediacy of it."


Three local publishers survive against the odds

The books run the gamut from those about the Philly mob to a more esoteric exploration of Hegelian philosophy, from offbeat survival guides to juvenile fiction; and from Tuscan cooking to cubicle decor. But they all share something in common — they were produced by independent publishers based in Philadelphia. 


'Homebody" gives others a home

When her first husband passed away, Bessie Williams remembers, “I was lonely and wondered what I could do.”  A friend's suggestion led her to a new calling. As a domiciliary (dom) care provider, now she shares her home with physically or mentally disabled adults in need of a supportive living situation. “You have to have a love of people and to want to share in their lives on a daily basis," Williams said.


Working at finding a job? Here's help

The unemployment rate for Americans 55 and older is the highest it’s been since the 1940s, according to Christina Martin Firvida, of AARP. The current recession makes job-hunting prospects especially daunting, but there are resources available to help. 
At JEVS Career Solutions 55+, program coordinator Judy Cherry. helps clients develop a "battle plan." She says the challenges include combating stereotypes, such as the belief that older workers lack computer skills; may not be able work well with younger bosses; or are resistant to training. 


Traumatized by "Self-Reinvention Tension"


A friend of mine talked to me about her plans for retiring soon from her teaching job.  After three long decades of bratty, bored kids, unappreciative, complaining parents, miserly salaries and out of touch and indifferent administrators, she’s ready to be done. 

But she’s troubled by stories she keeps hearing about people starting new, exciting careers after finishing the old ones. She candidly admits that she has no idea of anything else she’d like to do. Having worked long and hard for 30 years, she feels she’s earned the right to do absolutely nothing.  But all these boomers recreating themselves after retirement have been making her feel guilty.  She asked me: “Do I really need to put on my list of New Year’s resolutions: lose ten pounds and reinvent myself?”


Brit’s Second Career: Philadelphia Occupation

What’s a British guy doing, giving tours of Philadelphia?

Andy Maunder’s “Awfully Nice Tours” are a long way from both his native London and his first career.  “I’d been 30 years in tech and software and running companies,” he said, and in 2007 he found himself asking “what now?”

“What” turned out to be a one-man personalized guide service to Philadelphia and its surroundings.


Photographer is a man on a mission

When Raymond Holman, Jr.’s father was diagnosed with dementia 12 years ago, it changed both of their lives completely. “It came about suddenly. I needed to find someone to stay with him,” Holman recalls. A professional photographer, he is now on a mission to honor caregivers with his work, and so far has captured the faces of 58 family and professional caregivers. “They are special beings who are on to this planet to help people who cannot help themselves,” he says.


"Seven Vignettes" for 60 Years

“There’s an old saying that ‘Jazz can be learned but not taught,’” says composer and pianist Tom Lawton. “It’s something you learn by osmosis.” His absorption process began at age 19, when he first heard the music of jazz great John Coltrane. “It combined all the types of music I liked into one,” he remembers.

He’s honed his talent over more than thirty years, performing in venues ranging from the intimacy of jazz clubs and weddings to concert halls and jazz festivals; composing; and teaching at several area colleges.  

This year, he had the singular distinction of being chosen to compose a piece to honor the 60th anniversary of Philadelphia Senior Center, a member of the NewCourtland Network. “Tom is an inventive soloist with a vivid imagination,” said Robert Groves, chief executive officer of PSC.


Cynic finds serenity

How's this for a mid-life career change?

"I went from a smoking, drinking, cynical crime reporter to a healthy, optimistic, fit Yoga teacher."

That's exactly what Theresa Conroy did. She put down her note pad and picked up a yoga mat. Lost 50 pounds in the process, too. And also lost more than a few bucks in income.


Help with job hunting

The economic downturn has changged the employment picture generally, and torpedoed many peoples' plans for retirement, forcing them to rethink their plans entirely. For job hunters over age 55, there are helpful resources available.