What would you do If you were given the opportunity to start a second career after retiring? A few lucky participants of a local program at Crispus Attucks had the opportunity to answer that question last year thanks to a grant from the York County Community Foundation’s Hahn Home Fund for Embracing Aging. The grant was awarded to Crispus Attucks’ Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) to support their brand-new initiative: Second Career Service Entrepreneurial Project (also, SCSEP).
This new program follows the mission of the Crispus Attucks Association (CAA) – to enhance the quality of life for a diverse population and provide services to meet the needs of community residents. CAA envisions a community that encourages people to achieve their full potential.
Barry Freeland has a passion for and a history of serving York County and has served as the SCSEP Program Manager for over five years.
He wanted to start a program that assisted low-income adults aged 55 and older who were interested in learning new skills and securing employment. Since York seemed to lack services that assisted older adults with new business ventures, Barry implemented the “Second Career Service Entrepreneurial Project” with the help of participants from his employment program. “This project is designed to serve as an incubator where participants will receive support and training as they start their own small business,” he remarked while discussing the goal of SCSEP.
Through a grant from Embracing Aging, Barry hopes to increase the number of second career participants served through the project.
Participants worked collaboratively to develop a written business plan in their individual fields of interest, which included painting, construction, accounting, and culinary arts. Participants also included a description of their proposed business, a proposed sale, a marketing strategy, financial needs, profit potential, and licensure needs, etc.
To provide a background on business trends in York, participants received a copy of the Urban Entrepreneur Initiative Survey Results conducted by SCORE and the Crispus Attucks Center for Employment and Training. Participants meet bi-weekly to discuss progress on their business plan, check the status of their budget, to network, and discuss educational opportunities.
Research from the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor shows that seniors start businesses at higher rates than any other age group, making them the most entrepreneurial demographic. Studies have also found that senior entrepreneurs are more successful than their younger counterparts. However, older adults have unique needs among entrepreneurs. “They often lack the technical knowledge to start a small business and, moreover, have a lower tolerance for financial risk. The Second Career Service Entrepreneurial Project participants, for instance, live at or below 125% of Federal Poverty Guidelines, causing them to lack the capital to finance expensive start-up costs,” Barry explained. By pooling resources and working in conjunction with the SCSEP staff, participants can access business development resources that might otherwise be out of reach. SCSEP participants are also uniquely suited to pass their skills onto younger generations and have the potential to create jobs, thereby boosting the York economy.
To meet the needs of high school dropouts and displaced youth ages 17 to 21, Crispus Attucks championed the development of the Crispus Attucks Charter School (CACS) in 1993. The plan was to have participants of the Second Career Service Entrepreneurial Project paired with students from CAS. However, due to the pandemic, this portion of the experience had to be put on hold. When they are able to resume in-class sessions, the students will have the opportunity to be mentored by an older adult as they work through the entrepreneurial process.
Offering an intergenerational mentoring component in partnership with CACS will allow older adults to invest in youth, building a more connected community. This sort of volunteer service and a feeling of giving back is associated with better physical health and cognitive performance of older adults. Fostering these types of intergenerational relationships is also important for youth, especially for low-income and at-risk youth within CACS. Many lack a strong support system or have an absentee parent and some are young parents themselves. These relationships will help students develop non-cognitive skills such as teamwork, confidence, and relational competence, all of which have been linked to academic success. Through this unique mentoring component, this project will also help to create jobs in the York community, while enhancing the knowledge and job readiness skills of at-risk youth.
Where applicable, participants also received instruction and training to achieve certification as a minority, woman, veteran, service-disabled veteran, LGBT, or disability-owned business through the PA Bureau of Diversity, Inclusion, and Small Business Opportunities. As a result of the Diverse Small Business Certification, they are eligible to receive priority bidding for Commonwealth projects.
Barry is proud of the following new businesses owners:
Groovy’s Healthy Soul Food – Joyce Freeman
Transparent Solutions LLC – Nicol Myers
J Kirk Studios LLC – Jeffery Kirkland
ReCreate with a Purpose LLC – Selena Generett
Gusto’s Grub LLC – Natalie Brown
Medusa Transportation LLC – Roland Hannibal
MBK Financial LLC – Maxwell Baffour
Joyce Freeman retired after a 40-year career as an executive assistant in New York City. After her children had all flown the nest, she found the Big Apple a very lonely place and decided to head south to South Carolina to live closer to her aunt. She made a stop back in her childhood hometown of York to visit her sister, and while visiting, she realized how much she had missed York, her family, and her friends, and it immediately began to feel like “home” again. So she stayed!
Joyce knew that she couldn’t survive on her retirement savings and social security income alone and began to think of a way to supplement her income. “I wanted to do something new and knew that I had always enjoyed cooking and was offering catering services as a hobby while living in N.Y. I just lacked the gumption to turn it into a real business.” She started to research her options, and that’s when she got in touch with Barry Freeland at Crispus Attucks who introduced her to the SCSEP program designed to help people in her situation. Through her participation, she was able to secure part-time employment as a cook at Community Progress Council (CPC) where she provides meals to the early Head Start school children.
Eating healthy has become her priority as she’s gotten older, and as a fan of soul food, she decided to experiment with ingredients and flavors to figure out a way to make soul food a healthy food option. By substituting turkey for pork and using less salt and fat, Joyce is still able to enjoy the foods she grew up loving to eat. And now she wants others to enjoy it, too! Her long-term goal is to become a restaurant owner like her late uncle, Joe Kennedy, who owned several restaurants in York.
Nicol Myers has worked as a drug and alcohol counselor for most of her adult life. When she entered SCSEP, she already had her vision and knew her mission in life – to create a program that addressed all the needs of people in rehabilitation programs, especially one that provided the skills and tools to help addicts become self-sufficient. Having worked for several agencies in the area, she could see the gaps in the system and how they failed some of the clients/patients. She saw that some people were rushed through rehab only to end up back on drugs, while others who had worked hard to become sober had nowhere to turn when they left the rehab facility and lacked the coping skills and resources to survive in the world alone. “I want to see clients develop skills and healthy habits that become second nature to them. For that to happen, they need more time and better access to services. I hope to provide not only counseling, but shelter, food, clothing, career training and job-ready skills. That’s my dream.”
With Barry’s help, Nicol feels that her dreams will soon become her reality. She has a business license and is now working on receiving an EIN to open a business account. “My business partner likes to tell me, ‘we’ll take the ones no one wants. We’ll take the difficult ones’ because we know they need the most love and care’,” Nicol says. Thanks to Barry, she says, she’s “learned so much through this program and I now have the confidence to believe in my own dreams.”
For Jeffrey Kirkland, starting a new business wasn’t such a daunting challenge. He’d already been the owner of a photography company and started York Black History in 2016 after retiring from the trucking business and 6 years as an intervention teacher for the city school district. But it was photography that was his greatest passion, and one that he was willing to put his time and energy into growing. With the support of SCSEP and Barry’s mentorship, Jeffrey was able to jump start his photography business by establishing an LLC, creating a website and invest in marketing strategies. He now receives inquiries from people as far away as Michigan and Mississippi. “I’m enthused by the endless possibilities to grow my business.
At the age of 72, I’ve learned a lot about myself and my capabilities. Starting a new chapter and doing what I love brings me great joy.” Jeffrey plans on using his photography skills to restore and colorize historical photographs to add to a Black History Museum that he and others in the community hope to one day open. “We need to teach our youth about our history, traditions, values and our culture and make them proud of who they are and where they came from.” With images and knowledge of people who contributed to building the York community, they can feel prouder of where they come from and feel more invested in their city.
The next time you want to throw a party, you may want to reach out to Selena Generett, the proud new owner of ReCreate with a Purpose LLC – for what she calls, “event planning on a budget.” Selena retired after 25 years working as the grant accountant for the School District of the City of York. What started as a hobby to help family and friends, turned into a second career when she received her EIN # and LLC on Jan 20, 2021. “Through the SCSEP program, I was able to meet people who gave me great ideas and helped me create a business plan to set my goals and launch my new career” she said while recounting her time in the program prior to the shutdown. Adding, “meeting Governor Wolf at the Pennsylvania State Capitol in Harrisburg was really exciting. We also met consultants that work for the state who offered guidance on starting a new business.”
You can learn more about Selena and the fun and creative events she hosts by watching her interview with York County Community Foundation’s Embracing Aging.
YCCF is inspired by the stories of our community members and we are honored to be a part of the positive changes in the lives of our older adults in York.
York County Community Foundation’s Embracing Aging improves how people experience aging by making people aware of ageism and its impact and helping organizations be more age friendly. Contact Cathy Bollinger, at [email protected] or 717-848-3733 to learn more about our free resources to disrupt ageism and to join our movement to usher in a new age in York County.