Barriers Know No Boundaries

Friday Pizza gathering at my sister’s house was a good night for ma.

Watching your parents grow old is such a blessing and privilege.  We laugh and tease each other.  They boast about knowing more about what I was up to as a teenager than they let on, and I counter with stories they never knew happened.  We agree to meet halfway.
It’s also sad.  A reminder that no matter medical advantages, the vessel that carries your brain, heart and other organs, will eventual break down.  As John Mellencamp states in one of his songs, “Time holds the winning hand.”
I weekend trip home to visit my parents in Indiana had a little bit of all those emotions.  I made the rounds, spending time with my younger brother and two older sisters.  I had a recent front page profile on my parents in the Kankakee Daily Journal, framed, and wanted the four kids to sign it.  We are all at that age that it’s tough to buy things for each other and rather create memories than accumulate “stuff”.

My mother has had a series of health setbacks recently including a broken foot.  That led to a wheelchair and some other handicapped accessible items in the house.  It also meant my father’s daily routine of heading to the office for a few hours was on hold.  For the first time in their 62-year marriage, they really were together 24/7.  One was physical sore.  The other challenged mentally offering constant care.  They may have had different barriers to a more optimal quality of life but BOTH were going through it.  I witnessed it Friday morning when Dad was changing Mom’s bandages from a recent operation that removed cancerous spots from her shin.  Mom was grumbling (and had every right to) when Dad snapped, in a harmless, sarcastic way, “Yep, you’re the only one going through this.  You are the only one having to deal with changing these bandages.  Nobody else has anything else to do with this.!”  Mom smiled and replied, “You’re right.”  Message received.  No feelings hurt.  Mission accomplished.

Barriers.  At-risk students face them in high school with Jobs for Tennessee Graduates (JTG) helping to overcome what could jeopardize graduation.
Barriers.  Aging parents trying to hold them back with wheelchairs, bandages, patience and a whole lot of love.
Point is, we never avoid them.  You and I face barriers professionally and personally every day.  Most are small, thankfully.  But some are big.
We all have this in common.  Teenagers, you, me & octogenarians.
And will again tomorrow.

By |2017-03-14T21:40:54+00:00March 14th, 2017|Life Lessons, Uncategorized|Comments Off on Barriers Know No Boundaries

About the Author:

Call it John Dwyer 2.0 After 29 years as a TV Broadcaster, Dwyer is President & CEO of Jobs for Tennessee Graduates (JTG). JTG, an affiliate of Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG), is a non-profit organization dedicated to stewarding at-risk high school students toward graduation with follow through toward post-secondary education and/or job opportunities. Associated with JAG since 1981, JTG consistently obtains a graduation rate above 90-percent with a full-time job rate at nearly 70-percent. The most vulnerable, socioeconomically challenged young men and women, graduate with self-esteem with the realization and skill set to achieve success after high school. Does it get much better than that? Dwyer, is a resident of the Nashville area since 1996. He was sports director and/or a news anchor at TV stations in Nashville, Jacksonville, Florida; Ft. Myers, FL and his hometown of South Bend, Indiana. He is a 10-time Mid-South Region Emmy Award winner, along with winning numerous other awards. He is also a former Heisman Trophy voter. John is a 1985 graduate of Butler University, where he majored in Radio/TV while minoring in journalism. An avid running (or “plodder” as he likes to call himself), Dwyer runs in Nashville’s annual marathon. (Current tally: 7 Full, 10 Half). He accomplished a goal, once thought out of reach, be qualifying and running in the Boston Marathon in 2009. Married to Lynley, Dwyer resides in East Nashville with his wife and dog Lola. Dwyer served on the Make-A-Wish Middle Tennessee board from 2006-2012, and was board chairman for three years.

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COVID-19 Update

JAG and JTG Statement in Response to COVID-19

 As we are all feeling, COVID-19 has shifted how the world operates in a way that is unprecedented for our generation, and Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) and Jobs for Tennessee Graduates (JTG), one of 39 JAG state affiliates, are no exception. The impact of the coronavirus and the immediate danger it presents has closed our education system, directly affecting students and their families. This is especially detrimental to JTG students, who often look to their JTG Specialists and classmates for steadiness and security in their lives.

We also recognize that our students and their families are disproportionately affected by the closure of restaurants, stores, bars, and other service-industry places of work. These jobs often provide the entry-level opportunities our students need to enter the workforce. A difficult environment is likely to continue for some time, so we are in the process to reposition our training and support to make the best case for our JTG students to be considered for employment.

At a time when we must social distance ourselves to protect each other, the thousands of JTG students we serve need us more than ever.  We are responding to and encouraged by the requests from many JTG Specialists to access online learning modules and platforms provided by JAG educational partners like the Skills to Succeed Academy, EverFi, and Tallo. We are excited to see the interest in the JAG Genius and the use of virtual connectivity and the online sense of community – something we all need in these times.

Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) and Jobs for Tennessee Graduates (JTG) recognize we need to modify the way we provide support and deliver competencies to our students during this time of uncertainty. In response to the way business and education are adapting (in real time) to COVID-19,  JAG National is establishing new protocols and processes to ensure full, virtual engagement with our young people to ensure they have the competencies they need to meet the very competitive job market ahead. That is why JAG is providing the immediate recommendations below that are of highest priority, which impact the day-to-day lives of our students and Specialists. Like our world right now, please know that these are in real-time and subject to change.


Moving forward, we will have ongoing recommendations that will be built into new practices that will serve as both short- and long-term solutions to continue JAG’s data-driven model. This will help us remain accountable to our students, our partners, funders, and each other.