After 23 years working for the city of New York, Paul Spicer isn’t sure he’s ready to retire. The 65-year-old sighs and chuckles: “Maybe I’ll hold on for another year or two.”
If Spicer does stay on, his colleagues and the clients he serves as a job opportunity specialist at Rider Job Center in Bronx, New York, will be grateful. They know that he’s got their backs, offering words of support and encouragement to whoever needs it.
Spicer, a member of Social Service Employees Union Local 371 (DC 37), wears a number of hats like many of his colleagues.
“We’re case workers, social workers, psychiatrists, doctors and accountants,” says Spicer.
When a family runs the risk of eviction or a head of household loses his or her job, it’s Spicer’s job to get them back on track. But that doesn’t just mean finding his clients new jobs.
“It means making sure their kids are still going to school. That their family is getting the medical care that they need. That they’re eating. That there’s no violence in the household, drug abuse or mental health issues,” says Spicer. “It’s a lot.”
What keeps the Staten Island native going?
“I like helping people. I like seeing them get back to self-sufficiency,” says Spicer. “I get a lot of satisfaction out of seeing people reach their potential.”