Since 1963, communities across the nation began to acknowledge the contributions of older workers by using the month of May to celebrate Older Americans Month (OAM). The annual observance offers the opportunity to celebrate our nation’s older workers. This year’s theme, ‘Blaze a Trail', emphasizes the ways older adults are reinventing themselves through new work and new passions, in order to blaze a trail of positive impact on the lives of people of all ages.
One of the ways the Department of Labor's Older Worker Unit is celebrating OAM is to share success stories that highlight the accomplishments of older workers in the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP). Our first story was provided by The National Caucus and Center on Black Aging (NBCA). It features Mr. Larry Clegg, who went from being homeless to being a head chef.
- - - - -
Mr. Larry Clegg - Former SCSEP Participant
Hearing success stories from our participants is one of the greatest rewards of being a part of NBCA/SCSEP; it is a heartwarming experience and an indicator that we are reaching, as well as serving the senior community. Recently we were delighted to get an update from one of our participants and want to share his success story.
According to Larry Clegg, he was an outstanding high school football player with dreams of bigger things. His dream was to play college football and eventually professional football. However, with little or no parental support or guidance, those dreams were just that: dreams. Without a scholarship for college, and lack of money, he had to forego college and seek employment. That proved to be a huge disappointment, because finding a job in the Mississippi Delta was almost impossible. As a result, he became homeless and started hanging out drinking, using drugs, and wasting away his life. This lifestyle continued for several years, and eventually he decided that he wanted a better life. He yearned for a clean and sober life.
He happened to meet Ms. Linda Myles of NCBA, who immediately became involved in helping him. She assisted with getting him off the street and into an apartment. She also helped find him the means of paying his utility bills and getting food. She then directed him to a program that would help him recover from drugs and alcohol, as well as how to stay clean and sober. In addition, she encouraged Mr. Clegg to enroll in the NCBA/SCSEP Training Program and receive on the job experience as a chef. In fact, he was assured a full-time position as Head Chef at Delta Corners when he completed training in February of 2016. He started the next phase of his life on February 15, 2016.
Beaming with pride and a great sense of accomplishment, Mr. Clegg said, “When the community heard that I was the Chef, the line began to grow. They were all waiting for the Famous Clegg Burger, hot chicken and rice dish”. Mr. Clegg gives credit for his success to Ms. Myles and NCBA. He is thankful for all of Ms. Myles’ hard work in making him a success by not only opening doors for him, but also leading the way.