This is the sixth installment of the Staff Spotlight and by now you should know that the Council for Economic Opportunities in Greater Cleveland is home to some of the most talented persons in Northeast Ohio. This month’s spotlight features an essential part of CEOGC’s Community Services programs. He’s kind-hearted and has a contagious smile that can light up a Monday morning board room meeting. His name is Paul Billups.
To find out more about Billups, we decided to do a Q&A to get the inside scoop on one of the Council’s most beloved employees.
CEOGC: How long have you worked for CEOGC and in what capacities?
Paul Billups: I started here as a seasonal employee in 1999 as an Intake Worker. Since then, I have learned from the staff here and have been promoted a few times up to my current position as HEAP Manager.
CEOGC: Why do you do what you do? What gets you out of bed every morning?
Paul Billups: What I love about this job is the fact that I can leave here every day knowing that my team and I have been able to make a difference in someone’s life. Before I started working here, I did not understand how many different barriers there could be to someone just being able to live life daily without the constant fear of where the next meal would come from or how would they be able to provide for their family for just one more month. This work environment makes me appreciate everything that I have been blessed with and gives me the ability to be able to help others.
CEOGC: Where are you from? Did you grow up in Cleveland, OH? What high school did you attend? Did you attend a local college?
Paul Billups: I was born in a very small town called Union Springs in Alabama. I have been a resident of Cleveland, though, for about the past 35 years. I attended the CMSD East Professional Center formerly known as East High School, lol. I took classes at both Tri-C and Lakeland Community College.
CEOGC: What degree do you have? Did you need a degree for your position?
Paul Billups: I have my Associate of Arts degree from Tri-C in Microcomputer Studies. At that time, I thought I wanted to be a Systems Analyst but life happens and things change. I am currently enrolled at Ohio University pursuing my Bachelor’s degree in Applied Business Management. A degree was preferred for my position but not yet required. However, my aim is to meet that preference and obtain my degree.
CEOGC: What’s the fondest memory you have of your time here at CEOGC?
Paul Billups: My fondest memory of the time I’ve spent here at CEOGC would have to be the time my coworkers threw me a surprise baby shower after I told them my wife and I were expecting our first child. I am a very inquisitive person but I had no idea what they had planned until the last minute. They went all out and had me about to tear up in front of everyone. It further solidified to me that when you treat others with the respect and dignity they deserve, they will never forget you.
CEOGC: So how many kids do you have? How long have you been married?
Paul Billups: Yes, I have two children but had adopted two nephews and a niece before they were born who have since become adults and moved out. Mind you, that just means that I have five kids now, lol. I am married and this past June marked our 19th Anniversary.
CEOGC: You were recently crowned the 2019 CEOGC All Staff Day Talent Show Winner. How does it feel to be such a great performer?
Paul Billups: In all honesty, I am still surprised that I won because the other participants were very talented and creative. I guess it feels good to know that I have a little bit of talent hidden in there somewhere.
CEOGC: How long have you been a singer? Where did you cultivate such a smooth voice?
Paul Billups: I have been singing for as long as I can remember. At times during my childhood, I irritated my family so much they would tell me to be quiet, then I would start to hum instead. I think since I listened to so much soul and gospel music growing up, it just made me want to sound like those artists that everyone loved.
CEOGC: Do you sing anywhere else for fun or side hustle?
Paul Billups: Mostly I just sing for fun, but I have been compensated for singing at a few weddings. I did sing at every school I attended that had a choir or vocal program all the way up through high school. Recently, I have gone to karaoke with friends but I don’t usually sing though.
CEOGC: If you could quit your job today and go pursue a dream, what would it be?
Paul Billups: That is the easiest question I have ever been asked. (haha) I would pack up my boxes today and would be opening my pastry shop tomorrow. I love to bake and would drop everything in a heartbeat to be able to make that become a reality.