Delores Wallace is a remarkable woman. She founded the Girls Incorporated Teen Prevention program in Wilmington, North Carolina, and poured her heart and soul into “her girls” for 15 years. She was called to this work while working in an OB/GYN office and a young girl who was wasting away from AIDS put her head on Delores’s shoulder and asked, “Ms. Delores, am I going to live?” That girl passed away, but Delores vowed to do whatever she could to prevent this tragedy from happening to another young girl. Her work with Girls Incorporated revolved around an after-school and weekend program to educate, empower and build the self-esteem of girls in adolescence. Under her guidance, the teen pregnancy rate in New Hanover county was cut in half over 5 years, and out of 250 at-risk girls in her program in a year, not one got pregnant.
For these efforts, Delores was awarded the national award for Outstanding Individual Professional for the National Organization of Adolescent Pregnancy, Parent and Prevention. She also takes karate and kick-boxing, can break a board in half with her mighty chop, and has a beautiful smile.
But 99 weeks ago, Delores Wallace was laid off from her job and she hasn’t been able to get another one, although she’s applied to virtually hundreds. Why? Well, Delores Wallace has one thing going against her. She’s 73.
And in this wrenching recession we’re in, workers 55+ have been laid off at twice the rate of younger ones. Laid off workers over 45 took an average wage cut of 20% when they did manage to get a new job. And no matter how much wisdom, strength and power you have in your hands and heart, when you’re 73, it’s mighty tough out to land a job.
I’m sending $100 to Delores to supplement her efforts to provide for herself, beyond the childcare jobs she’s been doing and volunteer work that keeps her busy and happy. And I’m wishing her and every one of the seniors (like me) who want to be working (unlike me) all the luck in the world finding employment!