Velma LaCoste

Velma LaCoste, 88, of Bradley, stands in front of Walgreens on Kennedy Drive after her lunch break Tuesday. LaCoste has been with Walgreens for 50 years, starting her career at the original East Court Street location in 1969.

Most people at age 88 are not thinking about when their next shift at work might be.

But Bradley resident Velma LaCoste is not most people.

“It gets me out of bed in the morning,” she said. “I’ve been very blessed.”

The 88-year-old LaCoste recently celebrated her 50th year with Walgreens drug store. She has been working at the Kennedy Drive Walgreens since it opened in August 1997 after having started her career in 1969 at the downtown Kankakee store at the corner of South Schuyler Avenue and East Court Street.

Once a bookkeeper for the company, a floor worker and now a cashier, LaCoste largely works three, eight-hour shifts per week. On occasion she might work a fourth day.

LaCoste simply enjoys going to work.

“I couldn’t imagine not going to work. I would go crazy just sitting at home.”

LaCoste was honored with a recognition certificate at the Kankakee City Council meeting last Monday. She even posed for a photograph with Mayor Chasity Wells-Armstrong. The council even gave her a standing ovation.

“She asked me the other day if she could work another five years,” said store manager Chris Jemar.

Jemar said everyone who has come through Walgreens has been touched in some way by LaCoste.

“She would probably work five days a week if I would let her,” he said.

In addition to the Kennedy Drive store, she fills in on occasion at other locations when they are short staffed.

Jemar said the next oldest worker might be in their mid 60s. Whatever keeps LaCoste going, Jemar is amazed by his employee.

“I hope I can make it 50 years.”

Alexandra Brown, a Walgreens spokeswoman, said the company is grateful to have dedicated employees such as Velma.

“She truly exemplifies our brand purpose, to champion the health and wellbeing of every community in America. We congratulate her on this great milestone,” Brown wrote in an email response.

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