Dynamic Duo: Dr. Kofi A. Boateng, Executive Director, WHDC, and Caroline St. Ange, ReServe Accounts Manager

On September 25th, the crisp second day of fall, nearly 100 older Harlem adults gathered at the Jackie Robinson Senior Citizen Center, to celebrate the culmination of the West Harlem Summer Senior Employment Program (SSEP). This ambitious annual summertime community-empowerment program represents a groundbreaking collaboration between ReServe Inc. and West Harlem Development Corporation (WHDC). This year’s SSEP employed 100 Harlem residents, age 55 plus, in various nonprofits and community-oriented agencies throughout Harlem. The seniors worked in positions ranging from website design to facilities maintenance, tallying up an impressive 11,000 hours of service for their community.

Dr. Kofi A. Boateng, WHDC’s Executive Director, noted, “It’s just great to honor the participants for all of their success. Together, we have achieved something bigger than ourselves and for the greater good.” Addressing the enthusiastic attendees, Betsy Conrad, Associate Director for ReServe, added, “I want you to know that you are part of a national movement, transforming how we view our older fellow citizens. Your experience, skills, and commitment are powerful resources for building community and providing solutions.”

Let’s Get It Started: Jackie Robinson Senior Center Staff Makes the Rounds

Upon receiving their certificates of commendation, the attending SSEP participants, for whom a number of their children and grandchildren came to the event, beamed with pride. Participant Pledger Day stated, “We still have a lot of energy and something to give. This program allows us to do so.” Olga Salcedo, a Social Services Coordinator who supervised the Spanish-speaking participants at Our Lady of Lourdes Church, enthused about the program’s galvanizing impact on the summer seniors. “They’re engaged. You can seem them becoming more confident with each day.” The celebration also drew a number of SSEP Partners, the nonprofits hiring the summertime seniors. Vivian Williams Kurutz, Wellness Director of the Harlem Center for Healthy Living (HCHL), summed up employers’ enthusiasm for the program: “We love the value of the summertime ReServists’ experience, the value of their work ethic, and the value of their maturity and respect.” She added, “The ReServists helped us achieve our goals and at a fraction of what it would have otherwise cost us.”

As the first program of its kind, the annual SSEP helps make West Harlem self-empowerment a reality by providing part-time employment to Community Board 9 residents, age 55 and older. The positions enable the senior participants to utilize and expand their skills, help better their community, and earn a modest but game-changing stipend. WHDC funds the stipends through a $216,000 grant provided to ReServe. The benefits are twofold and immediate. Local nonprofits gain fully funded, motivated workers. And with the stipend — the game-changing ReServe program innovation — Harlem receives yet another boost: seniors often reinvest their earnings within their community, strengthening a whole range of local businesses.

ReServe Team: Carol Scafati, Suzanne Mack, and Caroline St. Ange

In his closing remarks, Dr. Bouteng stated to thunderous applause, “We hope to expand the SSEP to a year-round program.”

Summarizing the outstanding success of the SSEP model, ReServe’s Associate Director Betsy Conrad thanked Dr. Bouteng, Dean Morris, WHDC’s Director of Programs, and the Jackie Robinson Senior Center staff for their efforts. Ms. Conrad concluded to enthusiastic applause by noting, “Our long-term goal is to take programs like the SSEP to the national level.” Having started with 60 seniors in 2013, the SSEP has grown to over 100 participants, with a growing list of applicants seeking entry as word has spread of the program’s success.

[Click here to view the full photo album on ReServe's Facebook]

Events, Featured, New York City

West Harlem Development Corporation (WHDC) and ReServe proudly mark the successful completion of the third annual Summer Senior Employment Program (SSEP) with a special afternoon celebration. The event unfolds on September 25th at the Jackie Robinson Senior Center, in Harlem, between 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m.

This year, WHDC and Reserve employed 100 Harlem residents, age 55 plus, in various nonprofits throughout the Harlem Community. West Harlem seniors worked in positions that ranged from administration to facilities support.

The SSEP is the first program of its kind dedicated to West Harlem self-empowerment by providing part-time employment to Community Board 9 residents, age 55 and older. The positions enable Harlem’s summertime ReServists to utilize their skills in helping better their community and to earn a modest stipend.

Stipends are funded through a $216,000 grant from WHDC provided to ReServe Seniors Inc. With this stipend — a unique ReServe program innovation — the summertime ReServists often reinvest their earnings within their community, thereby providing the added benefit of strengthening local businesses.

In addition, local nonprofits gain fully-funded, valuable workers that help further their mission.

As Dean Morris, Director of Programs for WHDC notes, “We value Reserve’s expertise in helping us deliver a program that’s having not only economic impacts but also social [and] emotional impacts among the summertime ReServists as well.” Christine McMahon,President and CEO of Fedcap, proudly notes, “ReServe’s innovating strategy in engaging older professionals for part-time service is a win-win for both the community and these dedicated ReServists.”

The end-of-the-summer program celebration will feature a special awards segment, honoring those ReServists who distinguished themselves in their work. Additionally, notable supporters of the WHDC-ReServe partnership will address the program honorees and milestone achievements.

SSEP started with 60 seniors in 2013, and has grown to 100 participants as of 2015, with many more wanting to be included in the next round. A subsidiary of Fedcap Rehabilitative Services, ReServe is an innovative nonprofit that places 55 + professionals with nonprofits and government agencies that need their expertise. WHDC promotes neighborhood growth, empowerment, and quality of life in West Harlem.

Featured, New York City, Press
New York City

Judy Willett

Prior to joining ReServe, Judy served as National Director of Village to Village (VtV) Network, a peer- to-peer nonprofit that helps communities develop and run “Villages” across the country. Villages are consumer-driven nonprofits that help people age 50+ remain in their own homes, in their own communities. Under Judy’s leadership the VtV Network built membership in the Village Movement nationally from 0 to 30,000 members with 160 open Villages in 40 States, and 120 Villages in development.

Before that, Judy was Founding Executive Director of Beacon Hill Village in Boston, the first Village in the U.S.

Q: You recently joined ReServe. What are your impressions of it so far?

A: I am so delighted to be part of ReServe Greater Boston and the national ReServe movement. Using talented professionals to help better our communities is one of the most important things that we as a society can be doing.

Q: What are your priorities and vision for ReServe Greater Boston?

A: The people who founded ReServe Greater Boston, previous director Carol Greenfield, staff, advisory council and board have all done such a stellar job. I hope to be able to take it to the next level, to expand opportunities with important nonprofits and partners, and to really help to expand nationally the whole idea of the ReServe approach and encore careers.

Q: What do you see as some of your biggest challenges in accomplishing your goals for ReServe Greater Boston?

A: One of the main issues is ageism. We live in a youth-oriented culture that often looks at middle-aged and older people as liabilities, not assets. It is critical that we all work together to change that attitude, which limits the opportunities that are available to older individuals.  We have to make sure that people really value the experience and professionalism that people 55+ bring to the business world, and get the message out that ReServe offers an excellent opportunity for nonprofits to fill gaps in staffing from this amazing talent pool.

Q: Tell us about your background and interest in aging.

A: I have always enjoyed working with people of all ages, but chose to focus on working with the Baby Boom and elder Generations. I have a Masters Degree in Social Work/Gerontology from Boston University, and about 14 years ago I helped to found  Beacon Hill Village, to help launch a movement to help people stay in their homes and communities, and lead rich, expansive and impactful lives.

Q: Your work with Village to Village Network seems well aligned with what ReServe is doing. Can you tell us about that?

A: The VtV Network helps groups of people and nonprofits start their own Villages. It is really a nonprofit that is dedicated to offering anything and everything that people want and need to help them stay in their homes and communities for the rest of their lives. It provides connections to volunteers, exercise classes, personal trainers, transportation, meals, computer classes, and more.

Over the years many Village members would call and say that they wanted to work part time and give back to the community, and we often referred them to ReServe. I had worked with Carol and knew about ReServe for many years.

Boston, Featured

Not only are ReServists talented and experienced, they are also versatile and love a challenge.

Nora has been a ReServist for nearly two years, and is presently
working with the nonprofit American Friends of Jordan River Village (AFJRV).  Nora’s background was in office management at a real estate investment company where she worked as an executive assistant to the president/owner.  She took her administrative, organizational and bookkeeping skills and segued them into the position posted by ReServe Partner AFJRV.  “Nora is amazing,” Executive Director Gail Androphy of AFJRV told us.  Nora was able to assess the organization’s bookkeeping situation even before she started working there. When she came in she was able to “clean up our financial picture,” according to Gail.

Nora is Bookkeeper/Administrator and is considered the engine that makes the organization run efficiently. AFJRV has a virtual office .. that is to say, officers and staff work from various home locations throughout the Northeast.  Nora works out of New York City.  She is a trusted and valued member of the team, and records donations, keeps the books current and accurate, handles the mail, writes out checks for the ED to sign, and much more as needs arise. The primary contact between all staff is email and phone, and if necessary on occasion, they meet in person.  Nora is so pleased that AFJRV appreciates her work – “They are such good people.” The feeling is mutual.

ReServe is proud of the successful match of Nora and AFJRV.  This is just one of many success stories in our ten years of existence.  According to Gail, who described her experience with ReServe as “wonderful top to bottom,”  ReServe was helpful in finding AFJRV the candidate who’s the right fit for the role. In addition, Gail found in Nora the qualifications they were seeking: expertise in administration, accounting background, and she was “patient with us.”

Written by Cristina Pastor

Featured, New York City

Meet Judge Monica Drinane, the newest member of the ReServe Board of Directors! Judge Drinane most recently served as the Supervising Judge of the Bronx Family Court.  She retired from the bench in late 2014, and driven by a passionate commitment to support educational opportunities for youth and young adults, joined the ReServe board.  Judge Drinane began her career as a teacher for inner city youth in New Haven, CT., and later returned to New York to study law at NYU and begin a career in juvenile justice. She served for eight years as the attorney in charge of the Juvenile Rights Division for the Legal Aid Society, and in 2004 was appointed Judge for Family Court in the Bronx, where she heard cases involving neglect, abuse, domestic violence, custody, visitation and delinquency issues. In 2007, she was appointed Supervising Judge of Bronx Family Court.

Judge Drinane has an abiding interest in supporting and advocating on behalf of youth in care and seeking alternatives to school suspensions.  She currently serves on the Leadership Council for South Bronx Rising Together and The Commission on School to Prison Pipeline.  At ReServe, she is using her prodigious energy and talents to help us develop and strengthen our education programs, and is leveraging her city and statewide contacts on our behalf.  Judge Drinane is a tireless advocate for youth and young adults, and we are honored to have her serve on our board!

Featured, News

We are pleased to announce the third annual Summer Seniors Employment Program (SSEP). Sponsored by West Harlem Development Corporation (WHDC) in partnership with ReServe – a NYC nonprofit that places professionals age 55+ with nonprofits, government agencies and community organizations that need their expertise – SSEP connects residents of Community District 9 with local part-time, paid positions that serve and benefit their community.

SSEP is a win-win for the West Harlem community. For residents, this is a great opportunity to remain active over the summer of 2015 and to utilize your talents and develop new skills, while earning $10/hour for up to 120 hours. For local nonprofits, SSEP is a great resource to engage community members to work on vital projects at no cost to the organization.

“For the third year in a row, our partnership with ReServe, will allow us to make a difference in the lives of West Harlem seniors,” said Dean Morris, Director of Programs for WHDC. “We value ReServe’s expertise in helping us deliver a program that’s having not only economic impacts but social/emotional impacts as well. Every year the program becomes more popular and is highly anticipated.”

“Through ReServe’s innovating matching strategy and expertise in engaging older professionals for part-time service work, ReServe is poised to help WHDC expand its impact in West Harlem and throughout New York City,” said Christine McMahon, President and Chief Executive Officer of Fedcap.

Over the past 2 summers SSEP has placed 138 individuals with over 30 organizations, resulting in 19,200 hours of service. This year’s goal, supported by a $216,000 grant from West Harlem Development Corp., is to place 100 senior residents of Community District 9 in part-time community-based jobs.

Participants must be 55 years of age or older, reside in West Harlem’s Community District 9, and be committed to serving their community while earning a stipend of $10/hour. ReServe and WHDC will host information sessions, which are mandatory for new program participants. The sessions are:

  • Thursday, April 23, 1:30pm – 3:00pm at Hamilton Grange Library, 503 W. 145th St. – Auditorium
  • Tuesday, April 28, 12:00pm – 1:30pm at George Bruce Library, 518 W. 125th St. – Auditorium. Both sessions will include Spanish translation.

To register for a participant information session or to learn more about the program email sreserve@westharlemdc.org or call 646-476-3394, ext. 201.

If your organization is interested in participating as an SSEP host site, please contact Noelle Minter at nminter@fedcap.org or call 646-412-6502.

Events, Featured, New York City, News

ReServe has rolled out a series of monthly workshop to bring additional value to the ReServe community.

The ReServED initiative seeks to provide ReServists with resources beyond work placements. Each month in 2015, ReServe will sponsor an interactive, thought-provoking lecture or workshop related to continued participation in community life and/or the workforce.

“The idea behind ReServED is to strengthen the community that already exists among ReServists and our partner organizations,” said Noelle Minter, ReServe Assistant Director. “Through ReServED, ReServists can strengthen their skills and address various issues pertaining to returning to the workforce.’

On January 22nd, the ReServED monthly workshop series kicked off with an exclusive look into AARP’s new Life Reimagined program. ReServe partnered with AARP to offer three Life Reimagined workshops in January at AARP’s office in Midtown Manhattan. Life Reimagined is about opening the door to new possibilities, and the workshops provide participants with tools, resources and inspirational content to help them decide what to do in the next stages of their lives.

Workshop facilitator William Hamer, a nonprofit development executive who has been through the Life Reimagined program, praised the efforts of ReServe and AARP in presenting the workshops.

“ReServe and Life Reimagined are a perfect marriage,” he said. “ReServists are exploring new possibilities and looking to give back, and Life Reimagined lets them take a deeper look at their passions and commitments, while helping them stay connected to people who are having the same experience.”

During the workshop participants introduced themselves and talked about “triggers,” or events that drive major life changes. Some reported feeling stuck. Others wanted to develop new skills or pursue interests and passions they never had time for. Some talked about losing loved ones or jobs, and becoming ReServists to give back to the community.

“Triggers can be a launching point for new possibilities,” Hamer said. “Reimagining ourselves can help us understand our purpose in life.”
For the next ReServED workshop, over 60 people gathered at Fedcap headquarters on February 19 to hear author and activist Ashton Applewhite discuss ageism, and common misperceptions related to age and aging. Applewhite is the author of a terrific blog, Yo, is this Ageist? and a presentation, This Chair Rocks, that dispels myths about the later stages of life.

In an era of longer life expectancy, chronological age is less of an indicator of what individuals are truly capable of. Applewhite dispelled myths about aging and mobility, memory, sex and intimacy, and the belief that health care costs for the elderly are always higher. Only about three percent of the approximately 4,800 people over the age of 65 who pass away every day in the United States incurred medical costs that are considered very expensive.

“In a political system that doesn’t way to pay for the health care of its most vulnerable citizens, the greatest worry for people who are aging is becoming a burden to family,” she said.

Applewhite offered some wonderful tips to the enthusiastic audience. We are all older persons in training, she said, as she asked them to visualize their 90-year-old selves, and then imagine their current selves walking into the room. What would the elder self say to the younger? Probably you would tell them to take risks, travel, go to shows, use your imagination and pursue your passions.

“We need to overturn the notion that for two-thirds of our life we are in decline,” she said. “The more you understand about aging the more accepting you are of older people.”

Featured, Press

Jerry Wheelock

ReServist Jerry Wheelock was born in Uxbridge, MA. His family has owned and operated textile mills since the 1700s and he’s always been expert at designing and fixing things. His first job after college was designing and building water purification equipment.

In the early 1980s Jerry began building jigs, fixtures and other adaptive equipment for sheltered workshops at Morgan Memorial Goodwill Industries in Boston, the first in a worldwide Goodwill network that today includes 165 organizations in the United States and Canada and 14 affiliates in 13 countries. The modified workplace equipment brought higher wages and job satisfaction to the clients.

“We produced so much material that the whole manual payroll system crashed because people became so much more efficient,” Jerry said.

At Goodwill Jerry applied his skills to information technology. He installed a computer network, server and phone systems, and digitized the agency’s complex sheltered workshop payroll system. He aggregated budget and sales data for reporting, designed data conversion tools, negotiated purchases of PCs for the $18 million agency and taught staff how to use spreadsheets and customized software. One computer training project that he created was so successful that the sheltered workshop began providing mail room services to commercial enterprises.

Jerry had several roles at Goodwill over 14 years, finishing as Director of Management Information Services for Goodwill, while also earning graduate degrees in computer science and vocational rehabilitation.

Beginning in 1995 Jerry worked for Fidelity Investments as Principal Systems Engineer. He led numerous implementation, design and deployment projects, worked with international teams on security patching policies and coordinated the updating of over 50,000 computers on a monthly basis for the company’s global employment base.

When Fidelity began moving jobs to North Carolina and Dallas in 2012, Jerry and his wife, a Russian History professor at MIT, decided to stay put. In January 2013 Jerry heard about ReServe, and was impressed by its project orientation and stipend arrangement.

“The nonprofit has to have some skin in the game,” he said. “I found with volunteering that not every organization puts in the effort.”

Jerry’s first ReServist placement was as Database Manager and Salesforce Specialist for Boston Education, Skills &Training (BEST) Corp., a nonprofit focused on workforce development that is funded by the Greater Boston Hospitality Employees (GBHE) /Local 26 Trust Fund and a number of private, state and federal funders. The agency operates a Hospitality Training Center (HTC) that offers English language classes as well as a range of certification skills training. In January 2008, HTC opened a Tech Center that offers computer classes.

Joan Abbot

Joan Abbot, BEST’s Assistant Director, Hospitality Training Center, said that no one on the agency’s small staff had the skills to manage the database. Whenever a report was needed high-priced consultants had to be called in to pull it together. With new funders coming on board and a critical need for customized up-to-date reporting – and the database in chaos – the situation was untenable.

“We had no one devoted to data,” Joan said. “We clearly needed a new system.” Starting in February 2013 Jerry began researching replacement systems and vetting IT services firms. Based on his recommendations BEST Corp. hired a company to replace its existing systems with a Salesforce cloud-based CRM platform, while Jerry led a massive effort to clean up the database and develop a new reporting strategy. He worked closely with Union Trust Fund managers and funders to understand the agency’s service and demographic mix, and engaged with funders to clarify reporting needs.

Once Salesforce was up and running Jerry imported the cleaned up data into the new system. He trained staff and created reports and dashboards with critical stakeholder information. He has recently created a new Salesforce application to automate funder and participant reports.

“He was tenacious in his attention to detail,” Joan said. “He goes to user group meetings and taught himself about Salesforce, and works closely with everyone on staff.”

Prior to the upgrade, emails sent to multiple agency partners would result in a lot of bounce backs. Now there are zero returns. “That is phenomenal and its thanks largely to Jerry,” Joan said.

After working 20 hours per week for almost a year Jerry is down to five hours as the project has matured. The flexibility suits him, as he’s the primary caregiver of a young son while his wife is on a fellowship in Washington D.C.

Joan hopes that Jerry can stay on indefinitely. “It is hard to describe how much value he has brought to this organization,” she said. “As a small nonprofit there is no way we could afford someone like him if he wasn’t a ReServist. ReServe is a concept whose time has come.”

Jerry also greatly values his experience as a ReServist.

“ReServe is great,” he said. “I like that it is open ended and can be extended when the need is there. It matches the work/life balance I am looking for and I am energized by the people I work with.”

Boston, Featured, Greater Boston

Greg Betley

ReServist Greg Betley was born in Queens, New York. His father served in the military, and the family spent several years in Texas before settling in Hazleton, PA. Greg earned an undergraduate degree in management from MIT and later pursued graduate studies in social psychology.

Financial pressures induced him to leave the graduate program and pursue a career in computer management. Greg worked as a programmer and senior technical specialist for several companies in Cambridge MA in the early 1980s. Between 1986 and 1992 he was product analyst and manager for Prime Computers and Wang Laboratories, two early giants in the era of minicomputers, precursors to the next generation of servers and personal computers.

It was an exciting time in the fast-paced and highly profitable IT world at the height of the “Massachusetts Miracle,” before most of the minicomputer makers shut down operations, filed for bankruptcy or changed their business models.

“These companies were manufacturing computers as fast as they could get silicon,” Greg said. “I rode Wang almost to the end.”

Between 1999 and 2012 Greg served as Senior Product Manager for BMC Software in Waltham, MA, where he led the firm’s capacity management product line during its evolution to cloud-based systems. He coordinated engineering, marketing and sales functions, upgraded product portfolios, negotiated joint third party development efforts and led new product development.

Greg began to reimagine his life when BMC downsized in 2012 and he was let go. He and his wife had raised two children and put them through college, and he had spent nearly 30 years in the hard-charging IT business.

“I was not old enough to retire but old enough not to want the daily pressure,” he said.

The couple took some time off. They drove out to Montana. Greg worked as a barista for a while, and spent a lot of time bicycling. He attended a ReServe event in Boston in January 2013 and signed on.

His first ReServist placement was with Hearth, a Boston nonprofit dedicated to eliminating homelessness among the elderly, where he led the development and implementation of a case management database.

After five months at Hearth, Greg was offered a placement with St. Mary’s Center for Women and Children in Boston in the fall of 2013. St. Mary’s offers programs for women and children who have experienced trauma and are living in poverty. It provides 600 clients annually with shelter, clinical and educational services, job training, employment placement, and help in searching for affordable permanent housing.

Like many nonprofits, St. Mary’s has struggled to find the resources and know-how to modernize its IT systems. “We had an archaic system that was always breaking down and had a lot of inefficiencies,” said Deirdre Houtmeyers, President of St Mary’s. “Reporting took ten times longer than it needed to.”

Deirdre Houtmeyers

A St. Mary’s board member put together a volunteer team of experts to assess the agency’s IT infrastructure. The team came up with a 40-page strategic plan. The agency posted a job description with ReServe for a Chief Information Office to implement the plan and Greg was the ideal candidate, becoming Acting CIO in September 2013.

At St. Mary’s, Greg encountered an IT system with servers that barely worked, aging desktops that ran antiquated software, unfavorable contracts with local internet providers, no onsite backup strategy and a firewall that would frequently disallow traffic to pass through the agency’s internal network.

“If I were taking an IT assessment I would have given them an F-,” he said.

Greg spent almost a year upgrading IT systems and implementing the strategic plan. He negotiated new PC purchases, changed desktops from Windows XP to Windows 7, migrated mail and files services to Office 365, and lowered the agency’s costs by setting up an internal team to provide IT services.

He reduced monthly phone bills by over a third by eliminating unused lines, influenced St. Mary’s strategic partners to provide pro-bono IT services, established best practices and documentation standards for trouble ticketing and asset management, and implemented a second learning lab for students.

“He has been amazing,” Deirdre said. ”We’re in a completely different place now, from servers to PCs, hardware and software. We have a new computer lab. Greg has had an unbelievable impact.”

Culturally, Greg was a great fit as well. St. Mary’s provides housing to 32 families with children, hosts a pregnant parenting program and a residential program for children removed from their homes by the Mass. Department of Children and Families. Many residents are victims of domestic violence and/or neglect.

“Greg assimilated to our environment very well,” said Deirdre. “It takes a special kind of person to be able to do that, and he has been all that and more.”

ReServe is a win-win for everyone, Greg said. ReServists keep their skills sharp while giving back to fantastic organizations like St. Mary’s, which benefit from the skills and commitment of ReServists.

“It makes me smile when I see all those young happy faces, women and children who have had such hard lives,” Greg said. “It’s very satisfying to see these young people using equipment that I installed and maintain to further their education and move on to college and jobs.”

With the IT project largely complete Greg is winding down his service with St. Mary’s. He will train a replacement to help St. Mary’s upgrade its security and phone systems, and then explore other options. One of his ideas, inspired by his work at St. Mary’s is to assemble a “SWAT team” of like-minded IT experts who would provide strategic and tactical assistance to nonprofits on an as-needed basis.

Or, he and his wife may travel more. “I have the time and energy to do stuff I have wanted to do since was 20,” Greg said.

Boston, Featured, Greater Boston