SAGE begins jobs, skills training for LGBT people 40 and above

The Wal-Mart Foundation has donated $300,000 to provide employment and skills training for older LGBT adults in South Florida and five other communities.

"It will help them get jobs. It will also get them access to training, some seminars for job skills, résumé writing and cover letters, said Bruce Williams, senior services coordinator for the Pride Center in Wilton Manors.

SAGE (Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders) announced the Wal-Mart Foundation grant this week. The national organization will use the money to enhance existing SAGEWorks programs in Chicago, New York City, Denver, Philadelphia and Palm Springs, and to begin a new program in South Florida.

“Economic security is vital to healthy aging, and SAGEWorks provides LGBT older people with the training and resources they need to navigate today’s job market,” said Michael Adams, SAGE’s executive director in New York. “This important grant from Wal-Mart will allow us to extend the program’s reach, offering many more LGBT elders across the nation access to employment opportunities and financial stability.”

SAGE has allocated at least $15,000 for launching the South Florida program. Additional funding will be spent on technical assistance, training and ongoing support, said Judy Evans, a SAGE spokeswoman in New York.

Training is not just for gay senior citizens, but "for any LGBT individual over 40 years old," Williams said.

"They’ve discovered that the age of 40 is where age discrimination begins in the workplace," he said.

South Florida training will take place at the Pride Center, 2040 N. Dixie Hwy. in Wilton Manors.

"The entry point for the program is a two-hour orientation," Williams said.

The Pride Center began preregistration for the program a few weeks ago.

"We expected a mediocre response but we were totally overwhelmed," Williams said. "The good news is the response was there. The bad news is the response was there. We could only handle eight people in one session."

The Pride Center stopped taking names after the first 25 people applied. "We’ve had literally hundreds of calls," Williams said.

Beginner computer classes will be held in September. For more information, call 954-463-9005.

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