Vidalia man earns Older Worker of the Year Award

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 27, 2000

FERRIDAY, La. – At 72, Norris White of Vidalia stays active by working about three hours a day as a school crossing guard for the Vidalia Police Department.

And to hear him tell it, his reward is contact with people. &uot;I just love to be around people,&uot; White said. &uot;I used to not be that way until the Lord saved me, … but now I&160;can’t get enough of it.&uot;

But now that isn’t his only reward. On Wednesday, White was presented with the regional Older Worker of the Year Award, which is awarded each year by Gov. Mike Foster’s office.

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&uot;It’s the first award I ever got for anything,&uot; said Norris, gazing proudly at the plaque he received during a small ceremony at the Ferriday Senior Citizens’ Center.

Norris will compete with other regional winners for the statewide award, said Dorothy McDonald, director of the Concordia Council on Aging, which operates the Ferriday center.

Actually, until he changed jobs two weeks ago to save the expense of traveling to Ferriday each day, Norris was working at the Ferriday center. There, Norris mostly worked as a janitor, &uot;and always did such a wonderful job,&uot;&160;McDonald said. &uot;We miss him here.&uot;

Seeing Norris amble around the center’s activity room, it is hard to believe he once found it nearly impossible to find a job. &uot;I kept looking for work, but everybody said I was too old,&uot; said Norris, a former truck driver and Concordia Parish School District maintenance employee who retired in 1997.

&uot;And with my heart surgery — although I’m able to get out and do things — nobody wanted to hire me.&uot;

So Norris helped make ends meet by painting and washing houses in the area until a worker at the Ferriday unemployment office told him about Project Green Thumb, a nonprofit program that matches senior citizens with jobs.

And in the process, he has earned cash, stayed active — and, it seems, made quite a lot of friends.

&uot;I love each one of y’all,&uot; he told the crowd gathered at the center. &uot;And appreciate all you’ve done for me.&uot;