If the Small Business Administration keeps getting volunteers like Lorraine Lilley as counselors for the Service Corps of Retired Executives, a name change might be in order.
At 38, Lilley hardly qualifies as a retired executive, but because multiple sclerosis has limited her ability to work, she wants to make a contribution and volunteers one morning each week in the Cedar City SCORE office counseling business owners and people contemplating going into business.She provides expertise in writing business plans and getting a business organized before people go out on their own.
"I try to set an example. The only thing that limits what you can do is your imagination," said Lilley from her wheelchair in the SBA district office in Salt Lake City. She is the youngest SCORE counselor in Utah, and state SBA officials think she may be the youngest in the country.
In addition to her SCORE work, Lilley volunteers at the Iron County Correctional Facility in Cedar City teaching inmates about self-esteem, has been involved with the Renaissance Fair and conducts seminars on "Personal Thought Patterns for Success."
"You don't have to be retired to do the things I'm doing," she said. "My mind still works fine."
A native of New York City, Lilley's father was a Presbyterian minister and the family lived in several places in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. She graduated from Ripon College, Ripon, Wis., and started work as a computer programmer for Schering Plough Co., a drug and cosmetic firm in Cranford, N.J.
She had computer programming jobs with Mercedes Benz, AT&T and spent eight years with the Mars Co., the candy people. It was while she was at Mars that her multiple sclerosis was diagnosed.
Lilley said after the diagnosis, it became apparent that she had some MS symptoms while in high school. "I was sitting in Latin class and my fingertips felt like they were covered with gloves," she recalled. "My hands still feel like I am wearing rubber gloves some people use for dishwashing."
Mars transferred Lilley to California in 1983, but soon it became apparent that Lilley couldn't do her job with her MS getting progressively worse. After eight years with the company, she was put on long-term disability nearly three years ago.
But how did Lilley get to Utah?
Some of her friends in California had some friends in Las Vegas who discovered a wonderful place in Utah and purchased some property. The wonderful place was Hamilton Fort, a small community north of Cedar City.
Lilley hadn't been in Utah before, but on her first visit she decided that's where she wanted to live. She liked the area because of low humidity (good for MS patients), clean air and healthy mental attitude that she at-tributes to the Mormons.
In addition to her volunteer work, Lilley is also working on a house she shares with a friend in Enoch, a small community north of Cedar City, to make it more accessible for her wheelchair.
"I have my down times, but I spend most of my time thinking about how to do things," she said.