Letter from the Editor
As you will see further down in this newsletter, there is a week in March used to recognize AmeriCorps Members and Alum for their service called AmeriCorps Week. I’m always reminded that what I do as Employment Advisors is something which the people I work with truly appreciate to the point that they specifically want my help. Don’t worry. I’m not letting that go to my head!
Over time, the things all of us do become so repetitive we may lose sight of the significance of our various activities. It’s important that no one thinks less of what they do because of the repetitiveness or seemingly mundane nature of their work. I think it’s great there’s a week of recognition for AmeriCorps Members and its Alum. I think it’s awesome to recognize any service that is performed. There’s Veteran’s Day, Mother’s Day, Secretary’s/Administrative Professional’s Day, Siblings Day and that list could go on forever. I really don’t think it’s really necessary that there be a day for every title out there, but it would certainly help renew the significance of people’s duty who feel lackluster about their jobs. That being said, there needs to be an Editor’s Day.
Unfortunately, I missed last month’s Newsletter! The good news is why that happened — I was away in Mexico on vacation. I escaped all the horrid winter weather that began in North Carolina the day we left for sunny Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. It was a wonderful vacation! The best part was having real quality time, rest, and relaxation with my husband and going on three whale watches. We saw humpback whales and gray whales up close and personal; a very moving experience. Speaking of moving experiences, our AmeriCorps Team traveled to the International Civil Rights Museum on March 7th. It was a very moving and sober experience. I’m blessed to spend time with our team members and be amongst diverse genders, ethnicities, ages, and cultural backgrounds. We also had a session on diversity during our team meeting last week. I was so impressed with the sensitivity and self-awareness of the Members of our team. I continue to learn from them every day! Hopefully by the next time this column appears, Spring will have arrived in North Carolina, fingers crossed!
Priya’s Profiles: Smithfield Office
At the center, there are eight computers, a fax machine, a printer, a phone, and copying services for customers who need to utilize them for employment-related purposes. There are also various staff members on site including Veteran Representative Johnnie Carpenter, Agriculture Representative Benji Leggett, National Caucus on Black Aging(NCBA) Representative Miriam Chavez, Auditor Mark Harrington, and Center Manager Michelle Jones. Furthermore, Harold Lassiter has recently joined the team as the Business Services Consultant. Chelsea and Clint work with the other staff quite frequently, especially Malana Cain, Talent Engagement Advisor.
(Photos by Clint Exum)
Additionally, the Smithfield office provides resume and interview workshops for the benefit of their clients. Johnston Community College offers instructors and services for these educational opportunities. Most of the clients who come to utilize the center are older workers, veterans, and former offenders. A typical day usually consists of a staff meeting in the morning, and then assisting clients who need job search help and referrals, resume assistance, or those who wish to register for unemployment or scholarship programs.
The Smithfield Office is open Monday – Friday from 8:30 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. Make sure to stop by and visit your fellow AmeriCorps members or to take advantage of the wonderful career resources that Smithfield has to offer!
Chelsea’s Chats: Renee Hinton
“Leadership is not about titles, positions, or flow charts. It is about one life influencing another.” John C. Maxwell
When we think of great managers, we often think of dedicated professionals who exhibit exemplary leadership in any and all situations. Smithfield is fortunate to have all that and more with Renee Hinton as its Assistant Center Manager. Renee has been described by her colleagues as a committed, enthusiastic and confident leader who has a passion for not only her clients and colleagues but for the community as well. Renee graciously took a few minutes out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions about her.
- Where did you grow up?
- Where did you go to school? What did you study?
I graduated from NC State University with a Degree in Sociology and minor in Criminal Justice
- Any family members or children?
I am a single parent with one child, Jonah, who is 14, and 2 dogs, Bailey and MJ (a miniature Schnauzer and Chihuahua mix respectively)
- Tell us a little about your professional interests, career path, and what brought you to where you are today.
When I graduated, there was a hiring freeze on Probation jobs which is the field I wanted to work. I was able to be hired as a temporary Processing Assistant in the main office of Employment Security Commission in Raleigh. I worked for 11 months and was hired into a permanent Processing Assistant position there. From that I was promoted to an Employment Consultant in Smithfield in 1995. I have spent my career in Smithfield working from EC to Lead EC, to job coach, to assistant manager to manager. I love helping people. It is very rewarding to assist people with not only their jobs/careers but with knowledge to assist them in other ways.
- What do you like about being a Site Supervisor? What do you find challenging?
I like helping people to grow and mature in their positions. To see them learning and using the knowledge is great. Sometimes it is hard to keep up with all the moving pieces of the office to make sure there is coverage especially when there are unexpected absences. I love the assistance the AmeriCorps staff are able to provide our center. Without them, it is very difficult to assist customers the way they need to be assisted in the CRC area.
- How has your experience been working with AmeriCorps members? How do they fit in to how you run things at your site?
I have had great AmeriCorps members while I have been a site supervisor. They have worked well with staff and with the public, and they have fit into the office just like other staff members. I enjoy having them in our center.
7. What are your hopes and goals for this year at your center?
We were just integrated in July with WIA staff. My hope is that we get the office to flow well in assistance of customers. That staff get to a point they are comfortable in their positions and comfortable with each other in order to assist customers and each other completely. And hopefully we will find larger space to be able to assist customers better.
- Any personal interests or quirky facts you’d like to share?
Hobbies: love to read and love to walk
Favorite place: the beach
Christmas is my favorite holiday! It’s my favorite time of the year!
Quincy’s Quotes: Autonomy
"Government Assistance Doesn't Pay The Bills, Skills Pay The Bills."
– Quincy McAdoo
If you invest in your future, it will pay off in the long run. For example, if you buy a house at a young age, you’ll always have a place to go. An investment in knowledge takes many forms, including apprenticeships and life experience. Formalized education is one system used to acquire a rigid and controlled view of knowledge accumulated by so called experts. Life experience provides a much richer and profound education. Give yourself the time to learn from as many sources as possible. This is the investment our forefather spoke of. Go invest in some stocks, education or trade to learn a new skill. Investing in material things, can easily be taken from you. But knowledge and insight is something that will never leave. Our agenda as employment advisors are pitching this concept to our consumer.
Clint’s Corner: Technical Support
“Thank you for calling me; how may I be of assistance?” It was not too long ago I left a job where I would say something along those lines around twenty-two times a day. Coming from a technical background, I would not say I know everything there is to know about computers; however, I do know how to work one better than the average bear… As mentioned in Priya’s blog earlier this month, I believe a lot of us take our computer skills for granted. I keep reminding myself I have been using computers since I was six years old. That is nearly twenty years of experience! I see a lot of people using the computers in the Career Resource Center for different reasons. Over these past few months, I have witnessed some… interesting ways people use these computers. I have seen people use the monitors as touch screens. I have seen people think it was voice activated. I have even seen people who think they can pick up the mouse and point it at the screen like it is a television remote. Though these events are quite amusing and make for an interesting story, it gets old after a while.
Now, I know everyone has not had the same opportunities I have had when it comes to knowing the basics of computer, but every so often I see people who absolutely refuse to use the darn things. Sometimes they bring in someone to use the computer for them, and it is often that their helper is not that great at using a computer either. If I had a dime for every time I heard a prideful, “I don’t know nothing about no computers,”(verbatim) I would be so rich I could retire and open a learning institution dedicated to teaching people computer basics. My Computer Basics 101 course would be, “If the computer screen says ‘Shutdown’ don’t push the ‘Ok’ button underneath it if you’re just getting started.”
I want to point out there is a clear difference between people who skip reading the directions on the page and those who do not know how to use a computer but put in a great effort to do so. When I come across a person who asks me what they should do next, I always ask them if they have read the instructions on the page. Then they read the page and move along with whatever process they were doing. I think it is great they are asking for help, but usually I do not get the precursor of the “what do I do next” question. It is impossible to just walk up to a person and immediately know what they are doing and have all of the answers. It would be totally awesome if I could read minds, but I am not a psychic. Just like everyone else, I am a normal human being. It reminds me of the song, Superman, which was used for the intro of Scrubs performed by Lazlo Bane, “I can’t do this all on my own/ No, I know I’m no Superman.” I need just a little bit of back story before I can try to assist them.
On the other hand, I have the customers who have read the instructions and honestly do not know how to perform the following tasks. A great example of this would be when the time has come for them to upload their resumes and they do not know how to upload a file. It is when a person has tried to do something and cannot figure out the process because they lack the understanding or ability is the kind of situation where I think is acceptable to help someone. It is also a great teaching opportunity. As I am helping them with their task, I like to explain what I am doing so that they may hopefully pick up on the process and be able to do it themselves next time. In fact, during my outreaches at all of the different libraries, I am often showing people how to do some of these task like attaching a file to an email, how to fill out an application online, or how to use a search engine.
I have a few customers who have been success stories from this process. I had one customer who did not know a thing about online job applications, checking his email, downloading and uploading files, and had an extremely hard time typing and operating a mouse. Over the months, his typing has become faster, he can login into his email account, he still has trouble uploading files and handling the mouse, but now he can finish a job application on his own. I am very proud of how far he has come. From time to time, some of my other customers get really frustrated when they know what to do and fall off of their proverbial horse, but then they calm down and get right back on that horse and finish.
To counter that previous point, I have some customers who are… just not very motivated. I have someone who come to the office sit there with their arms folded and stare at the computer. I am sure that the thought of asking for help raced across their minds, but I think their pride prevents them from getting the assistance they need. Bear in mind, this is a very select few. There was a man the other day I saw sitting at the computer for a few minutes just staring at his email. A few times he would look at me and then turn away before our eyes locked. Eventually, I just went up to him and asked him how everything is going, and he told me everything was going fine. At this point, I had to be more specific. I asked him what his goal was for today. He told me he wanted to send an application to a particular company. So I helped him get to the website he needed, so he could apply for the position. I thought it would be over then. Nope. I took a look at his resume, and it needed some work. Thankfully, it was a fairly slow day in the center, so I could give him the one-on-one time he needed. It took about two hours of keyboard pecking, but we got his resume up to speed, and his job application completed.
On a typical day, the people I assist call me over to them just because I can type faster than them, find a file faster than them, or even print a document better than they can. As flattering as that may be, it kind of prevents me from seeing those who really need my attention. I think people just really want attention no matter what the environment is.
Alex’s Assessment: AmeriCorps goes to Greensboro
On Saturday, March 7th, the AmeriCorps members traveled to Greensboro to tour the International Civil Rights Museum. Deborah, our fearless leader, loaded us into a big van and delivered us safely to our destination. In light of our recent excursion, I decided to collect a few facts about the unsung heroes of the world’s civil rights movements. Did you know…?
“Bayard Rustin was a man with a number of seemingly incompatible labels: black, gay, Quaker . . . identifications that served to earn him as many detractors as admirers. Although he had numerous passions and pursuits, his most transformative act, one that certainly changed the course of American history, was to counsel MLK on the use of non-violent resistance.”
“Rustin also helped to engineer the March on Washington and frame the Montgomery bus boycott. With such lofty achievements, why isn’t Rustin considered an icon of both Civil Rights and humanity?”
Check out an NPR piece on Rustin here!
Named a “Human Rights Hero” by the Vermont Workers’ Center, Danilo Lopez has been a tireless advocate for immigration reform and human rights across the Green Mountain State. A brief bio from Dylankelley.blogspot.com:
“Working with his organization Migrant Justice, Danilo has helped migrant workers achieve safer work conditions, fair labor practices, housing, access to healthcare, and (most recently) the ability to attain critical Driver’s Licenses in the Green Mountain State.”
This is the mission from the migrant justice website: Migrant Justice builds the voice, capacity and power of the migrant farmworker community and engages community partners to organize for social and economic justice and human rights. We believe lasting systemic change requires changing not just how our food and economic systems work, but also changing who is at the table leading. Through Migrant Justice, migrant farmworkers, with ally support, are building community and organizing capacity to achieve concrete victories such as creating one of the best Bias-Free Policing Policies in the country, ensuring undocumented workers access to Vermont’s universal health care, and passing a law that opens the door for access to driver’s licenses regardless of immigration status.
Watch Lopez speak at a human rights conference.
Irena Sendler, a Roman Catholic, created a network of rescuers in Poland that smuggled about 2,500 Jewish children out of the Warsaw ghetto in World War II.
Here’s a blurb from PBS:
“Irena Sendler, a petite social worker, was not yet thirty years old when Nazi tanks rolled into Warsaw in September of 1939. When the city’s Jews were imprisoned behind a ghetto wall without food or medicine, she appealed to her closest friends and colleagues, mostly young women, some barely out of their teens. Together, they smuggled aid in and smuggled Jewish orphans out of the ghetto by hiding infants on trams and garbage wagons and leading older children out through secret passageways and the city’s sewers. Catholic birth certificates and identity papers were forged and signed by priests and high ranking officials in the Social Services Department so that the children could be taken from safe houses in Warsaw to orphanages and convents in the surrounding countryside.”
A movie has been made to honor this heroine’s courage. Check out the trailer here!
Chef Chelsea: CHICKEN ENCHILADA PIZZA
- 1 package of pizza crust
- 8 ounces Colby & Monterey Jack cheese blend
- 4 cups diced, cooked chicken breasts
- 1 sleeve of taco seasoning
- 1 can of enchilada sauce
- 1 can of olives (optional)
- 1 can of black beans (optional)
- 1/2 medium onion (optional)
- 2 garlic cloves, pressed (optional)
- 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes (optional)
- 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro (optional)
- Place pizza crust on a foil lined pan.
- Combine chicken and taco seasoning and cook according to directions.
- Pour enchilada sauce on the pizza crust to taste. (I prefer to puree some black beans and place them on the crust first)
- Once chicken has been seasoned place on top of the sauce and top with cheese and any other indigents you would like.
- Bake pizza accordingly and enjoy.
Clint’s Coverage: AmeriCorps Week
Every year there is a week dedicated to recognize the commitment made by current AmeriCorps Members and its Alum; that week is known as AmeriCorps Week. AmeriCorps Members are active in many fields such as preserving the environment, providing health and human services, improving schools, fighting poverty, providing aide after disasters, helping out the community, and supporting veterans or military families. What our team does as AmeriCorps Access Employment Advisors is normally helping out the general public with the job searching needs. Our primary populations are veterans, older workers, at risk youth, homeless people, peoples with disabilities and former offenders. However, we help anyone who asks for our assistance. We practice our services in smaller teams in different NCWorks Career Center offices spread throughout Wake County and one office in Johnston County.
Another service we do is work on community projects. These range from cleaning up the environment to volunteering at special events. This year, AmeriCorps Week took place from the week of the 9th to the 13th of March. During this AmeriCorps Week, our team spent Friday the 13th carrying out a group service activity at the Boys and Girls Club of Johnston County, and nothing was unlucky about it at all. We performed some general maintenance that was needed around the building. We helped organize the sports equipment room and got rid of the old worn out equipment. We fixed the printer in the computer lab which required major work and attempted to update all of the computers we could to make sure they were virus free. Books that had been misplaced were finally organized and the cabinets were organized. There was also some cleaning done and the trash was banished to the dumpsters.
I really enjoy our group service activities. It gives us a chance to get out of the office, and work with our hands as opposed to doing paper work or something on the computer all of the time. I like what I do, but I find it exciting to change a routine every now and then. It also gives us a chance to see our other team members and see how they are doing. Though our areas are different our experiences are the frighteningly similar.
Chelsea’s Chuckles 10 steps to increase workplace insanity
Here are 10 proven steps to maintain a healthy level of insanity in the workplace:
1.Page yourself over the intercom and don’t disguise your voice.
2. Find out where your boss shops and buy exactly the same outfits. Wear them one day after your boss does. This is especially effective if your boss is of a different gender than you.
3. Hi-Lite your shoes. Tell people you haven’t lost them as much since you did this.
4. Hang mosquito netting around your cubicle. When you emerge to get coffee or a printout or whatever, slap yourself randomly the whole way.
5. Put a chair facing a printer. Sit there all day and tell people you’re waiting for your document.
6. Every time someone asks you to do something, anything, ask him or her if they want fries with that.
7. Send e-mail back and forth to yourself engaging yourself in an intellectual debate. Forward the mail to a co-worker and ask her to settle the disagreement.
8. Encourage your colleagues to join you in a little synchronized chair-dancing.
9. Feign an unnatural and hysterical fear of staplers.
10. Send e-mail messages saying there’s free pizza or donuts or cake in the lunchroom. When people drift back to work complaining that they found none, lean back, pat your stomach and say, “Oh you’ve got to be faster than that.”
Rick’s Reflection: Purpose of Understanding
Our team had an awesome time in Greensboro this past weekend, and I am sure that most gained some unknown knowledge about the era I was raised in. Saturday’s trip had a resounding effect on my life: taking me back to being punched, pushed and shoved in many of the circumstances we saw. I was a teenager at the time, but I remember being asked to leave from the front entrance to Parker’s Barbecue over in Wilson one Saturday, and because of the way I was treated, some of the patrons traveling through Wilson got up and refused to eat there and threatened the owner at the time and that they would past that incident on to others who thought of stopping there to eat. At that time, Parker’s was the place where travelers stopped either on their way to vacation homes in Florida, or on their way back to the North. One had to travel on US Highway 301, because I-95 had yet to reach that far. So most of the suffering and the atrocities we saw on Saturday have never left me, but it made me a better person knowing that I was a part of something right in this country.
Here is hoping that there is a better understanding of the past years here in this country and how many of us can make a difference in our walk with this now society. Every effort we make to make a difference in the lives of many, employment-wise will have a very emotional effect from what was seen Saturday. I ask this team to remember the purpose of all that they saw and why.