James “Jim” Lewis had always been able to find employment. At the age of 12, he got his first job in construction. “I would show up that day for work, they would give me a work order and by the end of the day, no matter what – it got done,” says Jim. His work ethic only strengthened when he joined the U.S. Navy at the age of 21. “Being in the Navy gave me an idea of what the world is like,” says Jim, “You have to finish the job, you have to produce.” Upon leaving the Navy, Jim returned to work in construction until he was in his sixties. Actually, in fifteen years on the job, Jim was never late and never missed a day! He loved being productive, and always considered his experience an asset. In 2012, Jim faced some health challenges. He was predicted to live between 2 and 6 months. But Jim refused to give up!
Through chemo, hard work, and sheer determination, Jim was able to improve his health conditions. He beat the predictions. And even though he felt a bit weak, and he was older – Jim was more than ready to get back to work! He found a transportation occupation which he thoroughly enjoyed for six years.
Once he was back in job search at the age of 75, Jim faced some challenges. “No one would hire me because of my age. It put me in a bad place, mentally quite frankly,” explains Jim, “I was stone broke. No money, no food, no hope, no one would hire me, and I wanted to work…”
Jim connected to National Able Network’s Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) and quickly matched with his career coach, Kristi Erritt. Kristi says, “He wanted to get back to work. He was always willing to learn, make phone calls, and take suggestions. He was THE ideal participant!” Prior to working with Kristi, Jim says he did not feel comfortable using any kind of technology, however he began to do research online and pursued his Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) while also participating in job club.
“He’s an amazing human…he never ever gave up,” says Kristi. Jim earned his CDL and found a job. “Without National Able Network I would’ve just given up, and I’d probably be in a nursing home, but I think hope is the big thing that National Able [Network] produces in a person. I was determined to be productive…The job I have now – I wouldn’t have been able to do that without the help from National Able Network. Period…And working is about feeling appreciated. It’s almost better than a paycheck!…the world needs to know that even at 65, 75, or 80 – there’s still good people.”