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Business counselors recruiting mentors

The retired executives who counsel small businesses need help.

The Service Corps of Retired Executives is looking for more members locally, particularly young, not-retired people to join the volunteer group that provides advice and experience to businesses free of charge.

SCORE is a national organization, which is sponsored by the U.S. Small Business Administration. Its local Chapter 115, which serves Pinellas County, has 32 members and needs at least 45, preferably more, said Sheryle Isaacs, vice chair for marketing for SCORE.

Isaacs said the group wants to diversify a bit.

"There is something to be said for the wisdom of the older. (However) we need enough younger counselors so we can relate to all levels of clients." They do not have to be retired, but they have to have time to donate.

That time, and the experience gained from years in the work force, is used to help small business owners who may be just getting started or ready to expand. Counselors work in one-on-one sessions. Some entrepreneurs need follow-up sessions. The volunteers act as mentors with some clients, offer advice by e-mail and over the telephone when crises arise. The group also offers workshops on such subjects as starting small businesses, making the most of computers and solving business problems.

In the year that ended Sept. 30, Score counseled an average of 90 cases per month, some of which involved follow-up sessions. The 32 retired executives in Chapter 115 dealt with 1,000 people during the year, volunteering an average of 18 hours a month, SCORE said.

"We have to have enough of a work force," Isaacs said.

Some of the current members are part-time residents who come here in the winter. Some are retirees who go back to work. Others are old enough to have health problems.

Thus the need for more members.

SCORE is holding a recruiting gathering Nov. 13 at the Museum of Fine Arts at 255 Beach Drive NE from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

"It's a two-way street on this," said Isaacs, who ran Good Buy sportswear for 30 years. She sold the company four years ago. It was a wholesaler nationally and had a small retail location here.

"It's very rewarding for a person to volunteer. You're able to keep your brain active. There are a lot of people out there who retired early and are getting bored."

Those interested in attending SCORE's recruiting event should call (727) 867-7028 or e-mail scorechapter115hotmail.com.

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