On a Monday in February of 2013 Darlene Bailey started chemotherapy for breast cancer.  Just six days later her loving and supportive husband Tim, who moments earlier had just reassured her they would get through this together, suffered a massive heart attack and died while sitting beside her on the couch with his arm over her shoulders.

“After that I was a zombie,” said Bailey.  “I barely remember anything.  I ended up having to move in with my sister in Alabama for a few years, and then I finally got to move back to Cleveland.”

A friend suggested that Bailey reach out to Goodwill’s Kimberly Crider who manages the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP).  “Kimberly is amazing,” said Bailey.  “Everybody at Goodwill that I’ve ever talked to, they all seem like they really do care about what’s going on in your life and they want to help.”

Crider found the perfect job training placement for Bailey, who has always had a heart for the homeless. She prepares meals at the Salvation Army on Inman Street in Cleveland and works as a barista in the coffee shop which supports that work. The SCSEP program is funded by a federal grant, and low- income seniors are paid to work at nonprofit organizations which benefit the community while the participant is gaining valuable job skills to ultimately lead to permanent employment.

Bailey said the payments she receives from SCSEP supplement her disability check and allow her to buy gas, groceries and take care of her little dog Nala, who is certified as a therapy dog to help her get through panic attacks.  She is also gaining marketable skills in the food industry which will help her when her training in SCSEP is completed.

Perhaps the best therapy for Bailey is getting out of the house and having the opportunity to care for others. “When you’re isolated you can start to feel like nobody cares and you don’t matter to anybody,” said Bailey.  “So being here and being able to do something for someone else makes a difference.  Little things like letting someone know you missed them, they’re important and you care can make a big difference.”