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Retiree finding rewarding position

March 18, 2009
Times Leader
Prime Times Writer

    Thanks to the Community Action Commission of Belmont County, retirees who aren’t ready to leave the workforce entirely have the option of keeping a job and helping out their community.
    Through the Senior Community Service Employment Program at Connections, retirees are finding rewarding opportunities that help government agencies and non-profit organizations.
    It’s a program that has been working out well for the village of Bellaire.
    In January, long time parking meter reader Helen Bernice Keller put down her ticket book after  more than 20 years of service to the village.
    “Bernice is like a member of this family,” said Police Chief Michael P. Kovalyk. “She gave 20 years of her life to the department and never had a bad word for anyone. She was a dedicated employee and felt guilty if she wasn’t out there, no matter what the weather was like because that was her job.”
    According to Kovalyk, Keller was hired through a similar program to the one now offered at Connections and when she retired, the village turned to the Community Action Program  to fined a new meter reader.
    Well, it didn’t take long for the village to find someone to fill her shoes and Bellaire was happy to add a retired worker back to the ranks when James “Jim” Runyan who started on Jan. 26.
    For Runyan, the duties of tagging cars for parking violations is something he has done before. In the 1960s, he was police officer in Bellaire. He eventually took another position with the then city, working for the sanitation department from where he retired about a year ago.”
    Runyan, who will turn 67 later this month, said he’s newest job is a good one and something he is enjoying.
    “It’s good,” Runyan said. “I get some exercise and get to meet people.”
    So far, the job has been going well, and the only problem has been the weather.
    The police department also is glad to have him aboard.
    “He is just energetic about this. He does a great job and is conscientious about it,” said Kovalyk. “He’s not out there to see how many tickets he can write, but he’s out there to see that the job gets done and that people accept the responsibility and put money into the parking meters. People need to understand parking is at a premium.”
    According to Kovalyk, the Connection program isn’t just a positive for retirees, but also the community.
    “It provides a service but it also provides inspiration for retired people to stay active and continue to be a central part of the community,” Kovalyk said.
The Senior Community Service Employment Program is funded through the U.S. Department of Labor for people 55-years or older. The jobs are part-time and pay minimum wage.
For more information on the program, contact Cynthia Pugh, Senior Community Service Employment Program work coach at Connections, 740-633-5627.

Article Photos

The village of Bellaire recently added James Runyan to the village’s workforce. Runyan, a retired village employee is back to work in the village after he was hired through the Senior Community Service Employment Program at Connections. Runyan, pictured here, has taken over as the village’s parking meter reader after longtime meter reader, Helen Bernice Keller retired after 20 years of service to the people of Bellaire.



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