September 27, 2023

Statewide awards presented in recognition of National Employ Older Workers Week

Media Contact:
Lisa Cox
Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services

JEFFERSON CITY, MO – Today, Governor Mike Parson and representatives of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) presented awards in the Missouri Capitol Rotunda in recognition of National Employ Older Workers Week. Award categories included Host Agency of the Year and Participant of the Year for the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) and Missouri’s Outstanding Older Worker.

“What our senior workers have that is invaluable in the workforce is wisdom earned through life experience,” said Governor Mike Parson. “We tend to have a strong work ethic, a dedication to our duties and a sense of value for our careers that sets a powerful example for our younger generations of workers.”

Mindy Ulstad serves as the Chief of the Bureau of Senior Programs with DHSS as well as the State Director for the Senior Community Service Employment Program. At the ceremony, she stated, “The value of older workers in the workforce cannot be overstated. Their experience, work ethic, adaptability, and mentorship are assets that every organization should cherish. It is our collective responsibility to ensure that age does not limit opportunities, but instead celebrates the wealth of knowledge and experience that older workers bring to our ever-evolving world of work.”

SCSEP Host Agency of the Year
Peace Pantry first joined the SCSEP program in 2017. The organization is a hub of resources in the Jefferson County community, providing a food pantry and thrift store, but also assists community members with accessing resources for affordable internet, rent assistance, food stamps, affordable car repair, and more. Supervisors at the pantry work closely with SCCEP participants to assist them in developing skills that will enable them to secure unsubsidized employment. Peace Pantry respects the values and goals of the SCSEP program and has hired two of the SCSEP participants, providing them with unsubsidized employment. Peace Pantry was nominated by Constance McCord.

SCSEP Participant of the Year
Renee Davidson entered the SCSEP program in 2018 and is receiving on-the-job training with the St. Louis Area Agency on Aging. Nominator Jamie Saunders said, “Renee goes the extra mile every day but is particularly helpful when we are in crisis mode.” Davidson has received training to answer the phones for the area agency on aging and answers an average of 300 of the agency’s 1,000 calls each month. She shows great attention to detail and follows up to make sure that clients receive the assistance they need. St. Louis Area Agency on Aging values the skills and work ethic that Davidson brings to the position.

Older Worker of the Year
In addition to recognizing organizations and individuals involved in the SCSEP program, nominations were solicited for Older Worker of the Year. This statewide program honors a Missouri resident who is 55 or older, is employed at least 20 hours a week, and displays dependability and new skills on the job. 

Ardella Lack was named Missouri’s Outstanding Older Worker of the Year. Working at the Dade County Health Department, Lack, 86, still works 2 ½ days a week in the same program she has worked in for more than 35 years. Administrator Pamela Cramer nominated Lack, stating, “She is the best. During COVID, she was by my side, working 5 to 6 days a week or whatever was needed. She always comes up with new ideas to better serve the community and is involved in helping the community any way she can.”

Annually occurring the last week of September, National Employ Older Workers Week is led by the U.S. Department of Labor and recognizes the vital role of older workers in the workforce. It aims to increase awareness of this labor segment and develop innovative strategies to tap it. It also showcases the SCSEP.

SCSEP:  Missouri’s Senior Community Service Employment Program recognizes the value of older workers in our workforce and provides job training for individuals aged 55 or older who wish to enter or reenter the workforce but need a little extra training to do so. The purpose of the program is to provide job skill training for the participants and to provide needed support to community host agencies, which consist of not-for-profit 501(c)(3) or governmental agencies. Host agencies benefit by having someone who is subsidized by the SCSEP program, helping them fill positions they could not afford to pay for on their own.

Individuals interested in learning more about obtaining a paid training assignment and 501(c)(3) or governmental agencies interested in serving as a host agency may contact the department for more information at 573-526-4542 or visit the Missouri’s Senior Community Service Employment Program webpage.

Additional photos from the event can viewed here. 



Mission of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS): To promote health and safety through prevention, collaboration, education, innovation and response.