Athletes didn't return from the Olympics to lucrative advertising and product endorsement campaigns in those days, and Owens supported his young family with a variety of jobs. One was of special significance - playground director in Cleveland. It was his first step into a lifetime of working with underprivileged youth, which he said gave him his greatest satisfaction. After relocating to Chicago, he devoted much of his time to underprivileged youth as a board member and former director of the Chicago Boys' Club, an organization that served over 1500 youngsters.

He was, for five and a half years, the Sports Specialist of the State of Illinois Youth Commission. In the 1950's, Owens accepted commissions from the State Department and the President on two occasions. In 1955, named by the State Department as America's Ambassador of Sports, he spent two months touring India, Singapore, Malaysia and the Phillipines, meeting with government and sports officials and, as always, talking to underprivileged children. In 1956, he was named the personal representative of President Eisenhower to the Olympic Games in Australia. His itinerary also included visits to schools and youth clubs.
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