Older Entrepreneurs: Elsie Bowen & three more interviews online


Today, we are adding our third video to our Older Entrepreneur blog series as well as three more video interviews from California.

We now have 66 interviews online with Americans who are Over 50 and Out of Work.  We’re nearing our goal of 100!

Elsie Bowen, 55, founded Precious Jewels Day Care eight years ago in Philadelphia, Penn. with the assistance of WORC (Women’s Opportunities Resource Center) and the preparatory course in childcare development that she took at a nearby YMCA.  Although she has struggled through financial difficulties as a small business owner, Elsie would do it all over again.

“It feels good to be your own boss,” said Elsie, a registered nurse.

Mercedes Paez, 69 of Santa Fe Springs, Calif., was born in Managua, Nicaragua.  She immigrated to the United States at the age of 19 and began working in the garment industry in 1959.  She lost her most recent job in August 2008 due to the Great Recession and outsourcing.  Now, she is struggling to pay her rent and expenses, as prices rise, on her fixed Social Security and unemployment benefit payments.  She is determined to return to work, but finding it difficult, given the large number of applicants for any job she seeks in California, where the statewide unemployment rate, one of the highest in the country, is 12.5 percent.

Lorraine Contreras, 60, is a native Californian who now lives in Pico Rivera.  She worked as a bookkeeper for 23 years, but lost her job in 2007 when her employer was acquired by a larger company.  Since then she has supported herself in an assortment of odd jobs – caregiving, cleaning, babysitting. “Whatever it takes,” Lorraine said.  She owns and lives in a mobile home, but has been forced to take in a roommate to make ends meet.  Although Lorraine has an associate degree, she has been dismayed to learn that employers are now requiring applicants for bookkeeping positions to have a bachelor’s degree and be skilled in accounting software that she does not know.  She is taking adult classes to update her skills. A born-again Christian, Lorraine maintains an optimistic attitude toward the obstacles she is encountering in her job search.

Ramiro Flores, 76 of Whittier, Calif., had a 40-year career in sales for the graphic arts and printing industry.  In early 2010, at his last position, he agreed to take a 50 percent pay cut when the printing company where he worked experienced declining orders due to the Great Recession.  Despite his sacrifice, he lost his job in April 2010.  Although he collects Social Security and is on Medicare, Ramiro wants to return to work and searches for a job daily.   Working makes him feel vital and alive.

More on Over 50 and Out of Work:

•    We will be heading to South Carolina and Louisiana at the end of the month to conduct more interviews.
•    Please contribute your own Over 50 and Out of Work written story to our site through Comments or use our how-to blog post and send us your own video story.

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