MOUNT LAUREL, N.J. (WPVI) -- As we head into Memorial Day Weekend, meet a 67-year-old Burlington County veteran about why his service did not end with his retirement.
Michael Bradley, a Clinical Associate of Bancroft served in the United States Army for 20 years, but after retirement, he received a second calling.
"I still wanted to give back. I took a job pastoring and started working with children with disabilities," he said.
Bradley works full time at the Lindens Center at Bancroft, a residential facility for children with developmental disabilities.
"I kind of gravitated to the kids and they depend on me," he said.
Bradley's role is direct support.
"I'm primarily responsible for starting with their daily routine, engaging them in activities," added Bradley.
He works to grow their social skills.
"It's kind of just starting the little, little small conversations," said Bradley.
The goal of the program is to achieve the greatest level of independence possible for each child.
The clinical team will establish a goal and will establish a plan.
"You work with him or her, you do academics, and you'll do a leisure activity," said Bradley.
Bradley also works to promote confidence and trust with the youth.
"Come consistent with a goal in mind and then you watch him or her grow and develop certain skills," said Bradley.
Bradley says he enjoys daily rewards.
"The greatest joy of working here is and then just to get the little nods and the smiles, and you become like a father," he said.
Tim McKenna, Director of Lindens Center said,
"Mike is critical to our success as a program. He has this innate ability to form really meaningful relationships with our children, and they truly feel safe around him."
Bradley recently was named Direct Care Worker of the Year by the New Jersey Alliance for Children, Youth, and Families.
"And I'm grateful and I'm appreciative because I'm just doing what I like to do and that is to serve," said Bradley.
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