Erna's Story: She Proved She Was Not Too Old
When others thought Erna was too old to start a career, her bishop, Deseret Industries, and LDS Employment Resource Services thought differently.
Erna graduated from college with a degree in computer science and hoped to work in that field. But when one of her children—her only daughter—was born without kidneys, her plans changed. She quickly turned from her career as a computer scientist to a career as a caregiver for 24 years. She devoted all of her time to her daughter’s health care.
Her daughter received a kidney transplant and was relatively healthy for more than 17 years, but gradually her health began to decline. Erna, as the caregiver, started to feel nervous, irritated, and upset because she knew her daughter was not going to live much longer. When her daughter passed away, Erna felt lost. Nothing could pull her from the dark cloud she felt she was under. She tried going back to work, but things didn’t work out the way she planned.
During her employment struggle, Erna’s bishop counseled with her about her options for the future. Erna was over 60 years old and her skills had lain dormant for years. Her bishop recommended that Erna go to Deseret Industries (DI) to participate in their work-training program. Erna accepted the offer.
Erna was accepted into a work program at the DI, where she was also offered classes and opportunities that helped her change her outlook on life. She worked with a mentor to set goals to find long-term employment with benefits and opportunities for advancement. She started to feel more confident about her abilities. Through her training at DI, she learned to deal with customers, manage workloads, and update her computer skills.
“The DI gave me back my personality, my confidence, and my self-esteem because when I got there I was not feeling really good about myself,” Erna said. “But they compliment you, they reward you, they notice you.”
During Erna’s time at DI, she went to the local employment center almost daily for help and to find out about any new job leads. She took the Career Workshop, and the missionaries helped her update her résumé with her new skills. The missionaries helped her sign up on the new ldsjobs.org website so she could get updates about job postings. They informed her of any companies that were hiring, Erna filled out applications to send in, and she interviewed with different companies several times a week. She was amazed at the help so freely given by missionaries who cared about her.
“Every day I would go in literally saying, ‘Heavenly Father thank you so much for my life, so very much,’ ” Erna said.
One day as she entered the Tooele Employment Resource Center, the missionaries told her of a company that had dropped off some job applications at the center and that would be back later to pick them up. Erna carefully filled out an application and waited for the company representative to come. She handed her application to him personally and said, “And when will interviews be?”
The representative was so impressed by her that he invited her in the next day for an interview. Shortly thereafter, she was invited to begin training with the company, and her progression began. She was promoted twice in one month, and within two months of starting she had already received three awards for customer service.
Erna is grateful to be employed. She is even more grateful to the Deseret Industries and Employment Resource Services for helping her not just get a job, but improve her life.
“We have the most connected organization,” Erna said. “We feed our hungry like our Heavenly Father wants, we take care of emotional and physical needs, and we try not to drop the ball. When a person is unemployed, we don’t just feed them, we give them an opportunity to grow and to go forward.”