Pledger Day, Reservist Placement Coordinator
Four years into retirement, native New Yorker Pledger Day was ready for a volunteer opportunity. After serving as Associate Director Behavioral Health, Coney Island Hospital, following nearly three decades in senior management for the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation, the time was ripe for Pledger to make a contribution within the community.
“I surfed the Web, found the New York City Department for the Aging and a link took me to Reserve's web site,” he recalled. “I read the information provided and thought that Reserve might be the right type of agency to join where I could apply my skills.”
His hunch proved to be on target: In the winter of 2015 Pledger enrolled with ReServe, and was instantly able to make a difference. He was enlisted to serve as one of two ReServists who served as Placement Coordinators for the Summer Seniors Employment Program where Reserve partners with the West Harlem Development Corporation, to place local residents age 55+ in part-time positions at non-profit organizations throughout New York City. This program is a powerful poverty fighting initiative as the median household income in Harlem is 23% below the national average and the unemployment rate hovers around 40% above the national average.
The Summer Seniors Employment Program prepares its participants for the workforce by providing workshops at local public libraries and senior centers that cover topics such as resume writing and basic computer skills. For many, this opportunity makes a tremendous difference in their ability to pay their bills, and for some it is an entrée into much needed employment.
With his extensive professional background in management, Pledger was quickly able to sift through dozens of applications in order to find and place nearly 200 qualified local people. “ I think this program is amazing. It allows seniors in West Harlem who need to work, to make money while at the same time giving back to their community. ” he reflected. “Taking part in the organization of this effort, recruit and placing community members is tremendously rewarding for me,” he observed about ReServe’s ongoing poverty-fighting initiative. “I’m able to provide my skills and share my knowledge to assist others.”
Each year, Pledger enhances the program –and is focusing on how to make this a longer term project for the community, reaching more individuals and changing lives. Clearly, the project has resonated with his desire to contribute to the community. As for his experience as a ‘ReServist,’ he has no hesitation in promoting the program. “I would advise any older person I meet to become a member of Reserve,” he advocated heartily. “Reserve is a good organization that brings a significant service to the communities of this city by leveraging the talents of the senior population to its best advantage.”