KANSAS CITY — This summer, Jimmy Carr, a 69-year-old Liberty resident with cerebral palsy, has returned to something he loves — shredding paper for a local company.
Carr, who once owned a nonprofit that specialized in paper shredding, retired from that but decided he needed something else to do.
For 26 years, Carr has been receiving services through the Easterseals Midwest offices in the Northland. He started visiting Christa Steinebach, supervisor of pre-vocational services, and her department within the office. She recently learned about a possible opportunity with Cruise Holidays of Kansas City, and a connection was made.
“Over the past couple months, we worked on shredding paper again,” Steinebach said. “I am there for support. With the individuals in the pre-voc program, we work on skills over a year to a year and a half. They work on more hands-on skills such as filling water cups or salt shakers. We also work on soft skills such as team work and respect.”
Steinebach said Carr advocated for a job. She said job recruiters help those individuals find meaningful work. Carr is one of 23 individuals in her program.
“He is pretty inspiring,” she said.
The shredding gig is an opportunity to prevent idleness for a man affectionately called “the Mayor.”
“I was bored at home,” Carr said. “I like to shred paper, and I want to feel helpful. I need to be productive.”
Antowin Edwards, program manager for day rehabilitation services, gave Carr the mayoral moniker because the older man knows everyone and is cordial with them all. His day program has 40.
“Jimmy comes to talk to me, and I can see that he is very intelligent,” Edwards said. “He participates in all the activities we have here. He calls out the numbers for bingo games. We get him engaged. He really loves the coffee chats and learning how to watch his favorite shows on the computer.”
Carr’s first day at the Cruise Holidays offices happened to be his birthday — June 14 — and the staff honored him with cupcakes and small gifts.
“I am a little bit of a charmer and worker,” Carr said, laughing. “I like the job very much. I never get tired out it.”
He likes to do something different every day to stay stimulated.
“We are thrilled to have Jimmy Carr as a part of our dynamic team at Cruise Holidays of Kansas City. He brings so much to our team, we would like to bottle his enthusiasm,” said President and owner Mimi Comfort. “We feel blessed and honored to have him here.”
Edwards said Carr is not only an advocate for himself, but persistent about getting his needs fulfilled.
“Sometimes it is a war of attrition,” Edwards said, laughing as well. “He wears us down, but he truly is a bright spot here.”
While Carr works just a couple of hours a week, he passes his time at the Easterseals location or enjoying ice cream and television shows from the 1970s and ‘80s. He lives in a group home in Liberty.
The residents often head to various volunteer opportunities throughout the metro area. Steinebach said one destination is ScrapsKC, a nonprofit that is part arts and crafts store and recycling location in the West Bottoms. Carr said another favorite is KC Pet Project.