Local postman does the extraordinary things for others in need

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Man credits his own struggles as inspiration to help others


Staff Reporter

LAPLACE- Roosevelt Shortt Jr. is an everyday guy that fights everyday helping with his fiancee’s multiple sclerosis.

He says that he and his fiancé, Carolyn Collor, have been together for about 10 years now and that everyday provides a challenge for her.

&#8220Multiple Sclerosis is a very debilitating and crippling disease that makes it difficult for those who have it to move around. Sometimes they look fine, but could still be experiencing excruciating pain,” he said.

&#8220Through prayer and communication we make it work, together,” Short said.

He says he learned the value of communication after his first marriage failed and strives now to communicate with everyone very openly, especially, Carolyn.

&#8220My first wife and I didn’t work out because we didn’t communicate and l think a lot of that is my fault. The hardest thing about that has been that I don’t get to see my kids very often. After the divorce, they kind of chose to stick close to their mother,” he said.

&#8220The best advice I can give anyone is to communicate,” he said.

Shortt has five kids, four girls, Berthena, Jakata, Ranadaka, and LaShonda and a boy, Kenneth, from his first marriage and six grandkids from age 13, to about one year old. His fiancée has two kids, Christian and Kelvin Collor, who he helped raise and put through college.

&#8220One of my biggest regrets is that I don’t have a better relationship with my kids and grandkids because of my previous mistakes. I don’t spend as much time with them as I would like, but I still love them all dearly,” he said.

He said he is proud his son Kenneth has achieved his dream to be a truck driver.

&#8220Kenneth had some trouble before, but he finally became a truck driver, just like he wanted when he was a child,” Shortt said.

Shortt has been working as a U.S. postal worker for more than 30 years. He will retire sometime this year.

&#8220This was not my dream, but sometimes you do what you have to,” he said.

He began working for the New Orleans airmail center as an air transfer clerk at the airport in 1980, and transferred to the LaPlace post office after Katrina. He has been a resident of LaPlace since beginning there in 1980.

&#8220The main difference between the airmail office and here at the customer service center in LaPlace is that I have to talk to customers every day. I didn’t do that in New Orleans. I enjoy it though. I like joking with people and making them laugh, and be comfortable while standing in line,” he said.

His philosophy on life is to just help when he can for those who need it.

Before he took on a career in the postal service, he was in the Air Force for 11? years, from 1969-1980. He was stationed in the Philippines as a jet aircraft mechanic. He volunteered for Vietnam, but was never sent there.

He said he likes to work with his hands a lot, mainly helping friends, families and sometimes churches, with his carpentry and computer skills.

&#8220I like to help people build things. It doesn’t matter if it is a computer or electronics they want, or with a home project, I just enjoy it.” Shortt said.

As a child, Shortt loved music and was even invited to play at the New Orleans Philharmonic Orchestra on one occasion.

&#8220I love classical music and don’t like hard rap, kind of atypical for a black man,” he joked.

&#8220My most relaxing time is when I am listening to classical music and working on computers,” he said.

When asked why he didn’t pursue a career in music he replied, &#8220I had to be realistic and find a job I could make money with, and I had hoped to go into the military one day, so that’s what I did. I just wanted to do something more challenging with my life.”

&#8220I didn’t know a wrench from a screwdriver when I first went in,” he laughed.

Shortt grew up in the Magnolia project of New Orleans, but he said it wasn’t too hard.

&#8220My father was the wisest man I have ever known. It’s amazing to me how a man without a high school education had more wisdom to share than the nation’s scholars,” he said.

&#8220I have worked hard to support my family. I lied about my age to get my first job when I was 15. I believe people should work hard and show respect to others. That is sometimes lacking in today’s youth,” he said.

&#8220It saddens me that so many young people have few manners and little discipline,” he said.

When he retires he wishes to do volunteer work with Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) and improve his relationships with his children.

&#8220We are losing so many kids to violence, and crime, especially of our own race, and I just want to help keep kids out of trouble. I just want to do what I can,” Shortt said.