Apr. 4, 2023 By Bill Parry
As city agencies continue to struggle with chronic staffing shortages since the onset of the pandemic, many are turning to a work program for retired city employees to return to the workforce.
The city’s Department of the Aging launched its Silver Stars employment program last summer and the number of city agencies involved has expanded. Under the Silver Stars program, workers coming out of retirement can keep their pension and work part-time at a city agency, earning up to $35,000.
“These individuals have the expertise and institutional knowledge to meet the City’s needs. At the same time, Silver Stars can help train the next generation of the City’s workforce and continue to give back to their communities, all without losing their pensions,” NYC Aging Commissioner Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez said.
“Former City employees may not realize that the skills they learned in previous roles can be applied to new ones as well, and should look at the opportunities that are available,” Cortés-Vázquez continued. “Given the demand for skilled workers, it’s not surprising that interest in the program has grown so quickly. Since the program was launched in June, the number of agencies looking to hire a Silver Star has increased from five to 17 and there are now over 100 job postings. Some of the skills for the positions they are looking to fill include architecture, finance and budgets, communications, and legal affairs.”
Southeast Queens resident Evangeline Lincoln, 62, served the city for more than 30 years as a probation officer before the physical nature of the job led to her retirement from the Department of Correction in 2017.
“I just knew I couldn’t be running up and down steps as I used to,” Lincoln told QNS. “I had developed a physical situation that limited what I could do, so I thought it was best for me to ease out and let the younger generation take over more responsibility.”
After five years of retirement in her Cambria Heights home, Lincoln began to feel that she had more to offer.
“A part of me always knew that I just enjoy working with people and that’s been something from childhood because I always want to do social work,” Lincoln said. “I knew that if I could go back to something that wasn’t as intense as what I was doing, I could still be able to offer my skills to others so they, too, could pursue whatever goals and dreams that they desire.”
She became a Silver Star working for the Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) as a proctor for people taking civil service exams at the Forest Hills testing site. Last month, for instance, Lincoln proctored an exam for the NYPD at the Forest Hills testing center and helped calm people’s nerves by sharing her own experience in civil service.
“Basically, these are individuals who are various ages from various cultural levels and they are all looking to pursue employment with the city so they can have a career that’s pensionable with all of the benefits,” Lincoln said. “And you can still make income without touching my Social Security. Silver Stars gives that added piece of mind that you’re still offering something back to the community and not just sitting in the house, you know, wondering what I’m going to do with the rest of my life.”
Retired municipal workers interested in the Silver Stars program can call Aging Connect at 212-Aging-NYC at 212-244-6469.
“The Silver Stars program also shows the importance of having diverse age groups in the workforce, which helps reduce ageism,” Cortés-Vázquez said. “Older workers take less time off, intergenerational teams have proven to be more productive, and younger workers appreciate learning from older workers knowledge and experience. Not enough employers realize this, and we need to eliminate ageism and support older workers, by making sure they are treated with the dignity they deserve.”