A second career on the horizon

After she attended a second career center workshop, Bertha Mendoza, left, found work as a crossing guard. Nikki Cervantes, right, said seniors worry they won't be able to find work due to limitations and age. Ryan Mancini/The Signal

Bertha Mendoza didn’t know where to go. At 74 years old, living only on Social Security was not going to be sustainable, nor was staying in her Canyon Country home all day.

“About a month ago, I got a job as a crossing guard, which I never pictured myself doing because I worked for 40 years in an office in accounting,” she said. “But I didn’t want to go back to that, I got so burned out with computers and everything that I really didn’t want to go back to that.”

Her road to employment developed after she attended the second career center workshop at the SCV Senior Center dedicated to help seniors find work.

“They’re afraid — seniors are afraid they’re going to get rejected,” she said. “Seniors are afraid of after 30 years of not working that they’re in a position where they have to work, and they have no other means and they’re afraid there may not be a place for them.”

“We have seniors that are on fixed incomes, where rents are going up, cost of living is going up, but their fixed incomes are fixed,” said Nikki Cervantes, facilitator of the second career center. “So they need something to supplement to promote their quality of life and that’s our main goal here is promoting quality of life for seniors.”

She was initially terrified of managing traffic, particularly along Valencia Boulevard near Oak Hills Elementary School, with cars also passing by for students attending Rancho Pico Junior High School and West Ranch High School at the top of the hill.

“I really love what I’m doing,” Mendoza said. “I know that I get them to school in the mornings safely, and in the afternoon I get them home safely. Because that is a big intersection, I do not want them to walk on their own.”

Mendoza was met with gift cards and notes from parents thanking her for keeping their children safe while crossing the street, children who refer to her as “Miss B.”

The workshops also help seniors finesse their resumes and even set up LinkedIn profiles, Cervantes said. These workshops also function as a support group for seniors looking to escape a dire financial situation.

“It isn’t just during that workshop,” Cervantes said. “It’s presenting the opportunities at that workshop, and we have the one-on-ones with them throughout the week and throughout the month, because every situation is different.”

For seniors looking for work, second career center workshops take place on the fourth Wednesday of each month at 10 a.m.

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