At an age when most people are planning to relax and enjoy retirement, Bernie was looking for work. The job did not need to be full-time with a big salary – he was looking for something part-time to help supplement his retirement income. However, it had to hold his interest and make him feel he was doing something meaningful, not just something that would kill the time. He’d had his share of temporary part-time jobs since moving to Florida but none of them fit the bill. That all changed when he walked into the soon-to-open Goodwill Bookstore in Sarasota nearly 20 years ago. And, he says, he has no plans to leave.
If you buy books at this location, you may have had the pleasure of meeting one of Goodwill’s oldest team members. Known for his ever-present smile and quirky jests, this octogenarian is still going strong. Bernie will tell you this is because he loves what he does: interacting with customers – new ones and regulars – and building a rapport he knows will bring them back.
Bernie doesn’t know what he’d be doing if he didn’t have this job but he knows he has something in common with everyone who comes into the store and that makes his job interesting. He enjoys helping customers find books, discussing authors and best-sellers with them, ringing up their orders, and telling them about Goodwill’s mission. He also has no doubt his job helps him stay healthy, keeps his spirits high and gives him a reason to get up in the morning.
Another thing you’ll notice when you meet Bernie is his “I am a Veteran” pin that Goodwill veterans wear. He’s worn it proudly next to his name tag every day for the last five years. Bernie says he’s noticed a positive change in the way people relate to servicemen and women in the last decade or so. A pilot in the Marines who left the service just before Vietnam, Bernie will tell you it hasn’t always been that case. Now, every day at work, he is thanked for his service. He also likes that the pin allows him the opportunity to thank other service people who spot it, listen to their stories, and remind them that when they purchase books, they are supporting Goodwill’s Veterans Services Program.
Bernie’s advice to people who have reached retirement age and are looking for work? Find something to do that interests you. You’ll be more likely to stick with it, you’ll have fun, and you’ll stay healthy. Also, it’s important to remember it’s not easy to find a good job. It takes time, patience and effort. Be proactive. Ask around and don’t wait for someone to find a job for you. Lastly, leave your troubles at home and always remember to smile!
Bernie is proof that everyone can find a home at Goodwill and have a job they love even after they “retire.” It’s what we do ...