It is never too late!
The old adage, age is nothing but a number rings true, especially if you are Elvie Hill. Elvie is 78 years young with the vigor, tenacity, and inquisitiveness others half his age admire and aspire to. Elvie embodies the ideals of life long learning and came to the Center for Literacy in his retirement because he needed a challenge, so pursuing his GED was the answer.
“I’m 78 years old and all would say that I don’t need it anymore, but I enjoy it and the people here are like family and the teachers are very helpful to get me the education I need,” said Elvie. Elvie has experienced great success. He was a musician, owned a variety store on Lehigh Avenue for 35 years, and a farmer. Elvie said, “I read the newspaper everyday and I read music. I did well in my life, felt I was too smart for school, and didn’t need it.” Then when he started coming to CFL, he realized there was a lot he did not know. “You learn the higher end of education here: algebra, biology, percentages, writing essays,” and so much more.
He was born on a farm in North Carolina and moved to Philadelphia in 1948 with his brother who was going to school under the GI bill. Instead of going to the local high school, he began working as a musician and became a member of the Federation of Musicians local 77, which he has been a member of for the last 50 years. Elvie got married at 19 and he and his wife raised four daughters. All his daughters finished college and are very successful. “I was happy to see them succeed,” Elvie said. One of his daughter’s is a teacher and one works for NASA. At first, his family was reluctant about him pursuing a GED. “Some decided I’m crazy. Now they see it makes me happy and are supporting me. They even say, wow when they find out I know certain things.”
Elvie sets an example for youngsters and tells them they can accomplish anything. He said that two organizations wanted to give him jobs but said, “I’m not going to push anything on my agenda until I get my GED.” He is only 165 points shy of attaining this goal and will retest soon. He is not only reaching for his goals but also acting as a mentor to two students at Cleveland Grover Elementary School. He is also an informal mentor to CFL students. They also offer him encouragement, “they say to me sometimes, yes, old-head you on the ball.” Elvie is fulfilled because,” I’m helping myself and helping others. It’s really wonderful.”