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In current economy, re-employment past retirement is occurring

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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

By David Eck

ST. MARGARET MARY DEANERY — Every weekday morning Alma Panzeca bustles about the pharmacy in a Walgreen’s store, counting pills and waiting on customers.

Panzeca, 75, has been working at Walgreen’s part-time for about three years to bolster her finances.

“On my Social Security my basic needs would be covered, but there is no room for any other things,” said Panzeca, a parishioner at St. Ann Church in Cincinnati for more than 50 years. “It’d be very tight. This allows me an opportunity to save some money so when I have to retire for good I’ll have a little something there.

Alma Panzeca
Alma Panzeca works with a prescription at a Cincinnati-area Walgreen’s store. Panzeca works at the store part-time to supplement her Social Security income. (CT/David Eck)

“They have a savings club at Walgreen’s, and I’m up to 30 percent of my salary that I put aside,” she said. “I don’t have that many years left to accumulate a big nest egg.”

A widow, Panzeca’s late husband didn’t have a pension and was out of work for 18 months when they were younger. The experience strained the family’s finances, and when her husband went back to work, he was making less money.

“It took about everything,” she said. “We learned how to downsize.”

At age 48 and with her children mostly grown, Panzeca re-entered the workforce to help make ends meet and has worked pretty steadily since. She cut back to part-time hours after turning 65. Over the years she has been a receptionist, worked in a dental office and worked in a friend’s store.

She found herself without a job once the friend’s store closed. Looking for a new job was frustrating until she found Walgreen’s.

“I was out of work about seven-eight months, and I didn’t know if I was going to find another job,” she said. “Somebody put some trust in me at [age] 72. It’s a lifesaver. I really enjoy being around people. I enjoy the challenges of the job. I meet people every day and people are generally very good. It keeps me a little more interesting.”

Panzeca has experienced firsthand the effects of the currently sluggish economy; her hours were recently cut at the pharmacy.

“It does seem like people are having a much harder time finding jobs,” she said. “I think I was just very fortunate.”

Some of her co-workers are the ages of her children and grandchildren, and she gets along well with them. Her own four living children are glad she’s working and keeping active, she said.

She participates in the music ministry at St. Ann Parish and is active in another musical group.
Still, she doesn’t plan on going into full retirement anytime soon.

“Right now I enjoy working. I enjoy being around people and am thankful God has given me good health. So as long as I enjoy it, I will continue,” she said. “I think I would definitely know when it’s time to give it up.”

David Eck can be reached at [email protected].


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