Leslie Criss 6/15/10 cutline Dorothy Hopkins, 87, is not one for retirement

Leslie Criss 6/15/10
Dorothy Hopkins, 87, is not one for retirement. She’s tried it several times, but always goes back to work.
Suggested hed: Hopkins almost 20 years into third career
Read-in: The 87-year-old doesn’t know how to stay retired.
By Lena Mitchell
Daily Journal Corinth Bureau
CORINTH – If the term workaholic can be applied to an 87-year-old, Dorothy Hopkins probably fits the bill.
Until last year she worked two part-time jobs over a 14-year period, until the Helping Hands Free Clinic closed its doors. And that was after retiring from two other jobs.
Now Hopkins goes daily to only one job – coordinator for the Corinth-Alcorn County Literacy Council.
She is scheduled to work 9 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday, but most days she’s on the job at the Corinth Library much more than that.
The Literacy Council celebrated its 20th year last fall, and Hopkins has served 19 of those years.
“I would look out my window at the library and think ‘there must be something for me over there,'” Hopkins said. She lives in a house on Jackson Street that has a direct view of the library.
A key to Hopkins’ life has been seizing opportunity and adventure where it arose.
“I worked for Tennessee River Pulp and Paper for 20 years – bought by Packaging Corporation of America – and drove to Tennessee every day,” she said. “When the headquarters moved to Evanston, Ill., I moved too. That was an exciting time for me.”
Hopkins’ adult daughter, Sylvia Ruth, urged the Alcorn County native to move back home closer to family, but she chose Memphis for her retirement instead.
“For some reason, I had always wanted to live in Memphis, so that seemed like the perfect opportunity,” Hopkins said.
She didn’t stay retired for long.
Soon she was working for a busy law firm, where she stayed for more than eight years until further urging from her daughter brought her back to Corinth.
Hopkins came to the Literacy Council after joining the St. Paul Episcopal congregation under Father Hale’s leadership when he chaired the Literacy Council board.
“They had a volunteer student coordinator when they started in 1988, and he asked me if I would take it,” she said.
The years – the growth and success she has seen among the Council’s clients – have brought great joy.
“Nothing we do would be possible without our volunteer tutors,” Hopkins said.
It takes the alliances forged by the volunteer board members, volunteer tutors, Corinth Library providing free space and other support services, United Way funding, funding from Dollar General’s literacy program, Walmart, Corinth Housing Authority and others to keep the free literacy services available to the community.
“We served 34 students in the fiscal year that ended May 31, and that included inmates at the Department of Corrections,” Hopkins said.
About 20 tutors are on the agency’s rolls now, but more volunteer tutors are always needed.
The Literacy Council holds annual training, and the next training class will be in January 2011.
“We welcome anyone age 18 and older who needs our help,” Hopkins said. “They just need to call me at (662) 286-9759.”
Contact Lena Mitchell at (662) 287-9822 or lena.mitchell@djournal.com

Lena Mitchell

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