News & Stories

Former Social Worker and Caterer is Grateful for Care

The room started to spin, and LaVada Clark lost her balance and fell in the kitchen inside her Indianapolis condo. She was falling more often, and she knew she needed help. She called CICOA.

LaVada used to refer people to CICOA when she worked with seniors. She realized that asking for help is harder than offering it. CICOA stepped in to get her the assistance she needs bathing and caring for herself. LaVada, 79, suffers from multiple health concerns including diabetes, glaucoma and vertigo.

LaVada spent her life taking care of others. She’s the mother of six, and has been a social worker, a court bailiff, a receptionist and caterer.

By the time she was 28, she was divorced with five children. Then she met Alvin Clark, and they married in 1974. While LaVada likes to cook comfort foods like mac and cheese, fried chicken, lasagna and bread pudding, Alvin is a pastry chef—the first African-American Certified Executive Pastry Chef in the country.

They opened Clark’s Catering Service and Bakery from their basement, and catered all kinds of events, including Indiana Black Expo. In 1982, they bought Sweetheart Bakery on 30th and Sherman, and received a Citizens Award from then-Mayor William Hudnut. It wasn’t a good year, though.

“That bakery owned us,” LaVada said. As the economy tumbled, so did their profits, and they were forced to close. Not ones to give up, they started fresh in Atlanta, Ga., where Alvin got a job as a pastry chef, and LaVada became a receptionist at Cigna Health Insurance.

The couple moved back to Indianapolis in 2002 when they retired. Alvin, though, couldn’t give up being a chef. At 77, he still works long hours as executive pastry chef at Banker’s Life Fieldhouse.

Without CICOA, LaVada wouldn’t be able to care for herself. She’s grateful for her home health aide, and for the ability to remain at home.