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The 3-minute interview: Charles Toftoy, vice chairman of Experience Works

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People,Brian Hughes,3-Minute Interview

Toftoy is vice chairman of Experience Works, an Arlington-based nonprofit group that helps senior citizens land jobs. The 78-year-old has served on the group's board for 18 years.

What is Experience Works' mission?

We want to help older workers in the Washington area and throughout the country get back into the workplace. We've helped with accounting work, janitors at high schools, working at the YMCA, helping at-risk kids -- you name it. A lot of these people used to have professional jobs. Now many of them just want to be around people. A real goal we have is to improve self-esteem. Ultimately, we're hoping to save some of them from homelessness and suicide, which are far-too-common occurrences.

How big are your operations?

We now have 21,000 participants, including 800 veterans. We're in 31 states and Puerto Rico. Their pay is covered by our grants, meaning these companies are getting a free employee. It's a win-win.

Any perks to hiring an older employee?

No disrespect, but employers find them more dependable. You can count on them. They're not frivolous, taking calls from their boyfriend or girlfriend. They show up to work. Employers who hire, train and retain older workers will be most successful. And people who are productive and active throughout their lives will have better health, increased longevity and a more positive effect on their community.

Why do you do this type of work?

When I'm out in the field, I'm so fired up after I leave. At first, we were the only ones in the country doing this type of work. I love what we do. Helping elderly people get a little jingle in their pockets that can carry them over. That's what keeps me going. I've been in the military, the corporate world and the academic world -- this one really is the best.

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