PRESTONSBURG — Kenneth Stumbo wanted to work.
Although two heart attacks left him disabled and on his second cardiac pacemaker, Stumbo says, “I couldn’t give up. I had to keep going.”
Stumbo, 60, of Martin, got his chance to keep going after his sister told him about her positive experiences with the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP).
Operated through Big Sandy Area Community Action Program, SCSEP helps eligible individuals who are 55 or older obtain employment and training. Participants may work up to 20 hours a week in community service assignments with the opportunity for placement into unsubsidized jobs.
“When I went down and applied for the program, I told them I have to keep busy,” recalls Stumbo, who for 25 years lived in West Virginia where he worked for Browning-Ferris Industries, a waste materials recycling company. “I told them (SCSEP) that I needed a job. Without one, I’d give up, and I’m not one to give up.”
After determining his eligibility, SCSEP staff placed Stumbo at a fire department as well as at BSACAP’s Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), where he performed clerical duties. He also learned carpentry skills at the Low-Income Housing Coalition of Eastern Kentucky (LINKS).
Since Stumbo enjoyed working with his hands, when it came time to move him to another job site, SCSEP placed him as a custodian at the Floyd County Courthouse. While there, Stumbo’s work ethic impressed Floyd County Judge-Executive R.D. “Doc” Marshall so much that one year ago he offered Stumbo the job as head custodian.
“I hired Ken because of his desire to do the job right,” Marshall explains. “He takes pride in working in this building and in county government. I told him the first time we met, ‘This building belongs to the people. When they come into it, they should be proud of it. I want the floors to shine, the bathrooms to smell good, the whole building to look good.’”
Marshall adds, “Ken has done everything we’ve asked of him and gone beyond. He comes in during emergencies, works on weekends and he’s prompt. This is a very traveled building. It’s hard to work if things are not taken care of in the early morning hours or after hours.”
Stumbo, who has learned plumbing and electrical skills during his tenure at the courthouse, thinks he fits in well at the building.
“They put me in the right place when they put me here,” he says.
He continues, “The program (SCSEP) is excellent. There are good people working at it and they take pride in their work. They know that people are trying to get back on their feet and are not just looking at a paycheck, but what they can learn.
“I advise anyone to check on the program. If it hadn’t been for the program, I wouldn’t have gotten the job.”
For more information on the Big Sandy Area Community Action Program’s Senior Community Service Employment Program, call (606) 298-3217.