It has come to my attention that this is graduation season. Students are graduating with their four-year degrees and students in High School will soon be graduating too. While others are going to further their education, there is a fresh batch of young people who have decided they are ready to enter the working world as full-fledged adults and maybe further their education later on down the road of life. I’ve noticed an increase in the number of people who are about to graduate from high school or are at that age where they are getting ready for college coming to the office and showing up at the libraries. When they come in to write their resumes or sign up for NCWorks on our computers, it seems to be so natural to them. So that’s what they’re teaching children in schools these days. Kudos to the education system that has prepared the youth to be so adaptable to technology.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the power of positive energy and attitude. I want to share a writing with you by Charles Swindoll on attitude, “The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. It will make or break a company … a church … a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude … I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me, and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you … we are in charge of our Attitudes.” And, so I ask, how is your attitude?
Chelsea’s Chats: Jane Sterner
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”
— John Quincy Adams
One-Stop System Manager Jane Sterner exemplifies what it means to be a Manager. Her enthusiasm, commitment and passion for what she does is demonstrated in all aspects of her work. This is shown in many ways including whenever she visits an NCWorks Career Center she takes time to talk with all the employees she encounters, there is no employee too insignificant to talk with. Those who are lucky to be supervised by her say she is the best boss they have ever had, she is never too busy to give them guidance or be a sounding board when needed. Jane was kind enough to take a few minutes out of her busy schedule to answer a few question about herself.
- Where did you grow up?
Born and raised in Raleigh, North Carolina. I currently live in Cary. I have traveled a lot of places, but there is nowhere else I would rather live.
- Where did you go to school? What did you study?
Organization Management at Mount Olive College
- Any family members or children?
I have two older sisters. Yes, I am the baby of the family and very spoiled and sheltered. Currently, I am married with two children, a son in Austin, TX who works for Apple and a daughter who works for the Cat Clinic in Morrisville. And, of course, I have a granddaughter who is the pride of my life right now at 6 months old. Being a grandmother brings a whole new dimension to my life.
Along with my cat, Cali, I also have four additional cats, two inside and two outside. A litter of 4 was born under my porch a few years ago and we were able to catch three of them and the mother and have them fixed. My daughter socialized two of them (mother and baby) and brought them inside. The other two only show up at feeding time. In addition to the cats, I have a rabbit, named Phoenix.
- Tell us a little about your professional interests, career path, and what brought you to where you are today.
My career path has been an interesting one. I’m not really sure how I got where I am today. It definitely was not planned. My first job was for my dad at our family laundromat at the age of 14 at $1 an hour. After that I went to work at a grocery store and was there for 17 years. I then decided to stay home when my daughter was born and go back to school at night. So in order to do that I ran an in-home day care center keeping an additional 4 children. After school, I got this job and have been here ever since.
- What do you like about being a One-Stop System Manager?
What I enjoy the most is that it is so unpredictable. Not the same thing everyday. Not only do I work at a desk, but the job also requires me to be out of the office visiting our NCWorks Career Centers in Wake and Johnston Counties. I enjoy hearing the success stories of our customers, the ones that really didn’t know what to do or where to go and we made a real difference in their lives.
- How has your experience been working with AmeriCorps members?
I love the AmeriCorps program and the members we see every year. It is so refreshing to have a new prospective on what we do. The members always have such an innovative approach and bring so much energy and fun to our Centers and outreach locations. I love to hear about the positive impact they have on the community.
- What are your hopes and goals for this year’s Program?
I hope the members get as much out of the program as they put into it. It is such a wonderful learning experience, both challenging and eye-opening. I hope they appreciate the information they learn and know it is something they will be able to take with them anywhere else they go in life. It is my goal that the members have a good experience in the program and that it becomes a stepping stone for their future.
- Any personal interests or quirky facts you’d like to share?
There are almost too many to name. I tend to jump from one hobby to another. My husband calls it my “hobby of the month”. Some of the more fun things I like to do are reading, sewing, woodworking, photography, knitting, crocheting, traveling, home improvement, technology and of course, geocaching. I recently took a stain glass class and can’t wait until I can do more with it. I already have several projects in mind.
Wow, quirky facts??? That is really an interesting thing to ask. I’ve never been asked that before. The most quirky thing I can think of is that I can wiggle my eyes back and forth really fast. I remember freaking people out in high school when I would do it for them. Is that quirky enough?
“Improving the lives of women and girls through programs leading to social and economic empowerment”
The name Soroptimist comes from the Latin words soror meaning “sister” and optimus meaning “best” to make the phrase “best for women”. Soroptimist International is a nonprofit volunteer organization with the goal of assisting women and girls all over the world through social and economic empowerment with the primary focus being on education. This organization was founded in Oakland, California in 1921. It reached Raleigh, North Carolina in 1983. Soroptimist International of Raleigh has 30 to 40 members.
Soroptimist Raleigh partners with many other organizations. These organizations include The Queen’s Foundation, , PATH NC (Partners Against Trafficking Humans), NAWBO (National Association of Women Business Owners), InterAct, Wake Young Women’s Leadership Academy and Dress for Success.
This past April, a few AmeriCorps volunteers took part of the ninth annual Triangle Women of Distinction Awards celebration. The awards provide grants and donations to other women, girls and organizations in the Triangle whose actions embody the mission of Soroptimist. AmeriCorps volunteers helped by watching the awardees’ children while the awardees were recognized for their triumphs while facing adversity. The children we watched were extremely energetic and it was a great pleasure to spend time with them.
(Photos courtesy of Soroptimist International Raleigh)
“Who would have thought that the same woman who tried to kill herself a few years back would be preparing to walk across the stage in just a few months to obtain her first college degree?” said, Live Your Dream awardee, Shont’e Mason, “Some may see it as years late, but I see it as a major accomplishment and a sneak peak of the greater things to come in my life”.
The awardees honored have persevered through seemingly impossible obstacles such as major depression, losing a parent while still trying to complete school, and receiving threats for their religious beliefs in their home country and having to come to a new country for their safety.
Soroptimist Raleigh’s impact in their area has been significant. Since they have been established they have been able to provide over $37,000 for education related expenses for women who support families, provided $1500 in grants to The Queen’s Foundation, assisted in equipping over 2,000 disadvantaged women obtain gainful employment, recognized 20 teenage girls for their volunteer work in the community with grants to them and their charities, and honored 15 women who have made a difference in the lives of the women and girls with a total of $7,500 in contributions to their charities.
“Without the Live Your Dream grant, I was going to have to drop out of school again in order to raise enough money to complete my degree. Now I’ll graduate this summer” – Shont’e Mason.
To learn more about Soroptimist Raleigh and their service projects got to http://soroptimistraleigh.org/. Also, if you or anyone you know are interested in becoming a member of or supporting Soroptimist Raleigh please go to http://soroptimistraleigh.org/ and click on “contact us.”
Quincy’s Quotes: Responsibility
“Accept responsibility for your life. Know that it is you who will get you where you want to go, no one else.” – Les Brown
Why you must accept personal responsibility for your life, happiness, relationships, career, health, finances and success, or you are powerless to create the life and lifestyle of your dreams because you will always blame others for your failures and therefore, never do anything to help yourself, or change your situation. Taking responsibility means making decisions, taking action, setting high standards, learning from our mistakes and always doing what we say. We take ownership of our work, always trying to be better, thinking differently and challenging convention. At AmeriCorps, we believe our consumers will make the best decision they can at the moment. So we encourage that decision to be taken there and then, rather than it be delayed by referring to someone else. Because we lead people, our teams or our supporters taking responsibility also mean being a brilliant employment advisor too. Brilliant employment advisor know so much more than just the rules of the games. They know how to communicate and set consumers up in a way that gets amazing results and they take responsibility to guide, inspire and empower themselves to release and develop their full potential.
How to respond if caught sleeping at your desk (not that any of us would ever do such a thing…).
“They told me at the blood bank this might happen.”
“This is one of the seven habits of highly effective people!”
“You don’t discriminate against those with Indolent Atrophy Symbiosis syndrome, DO YOU?!?”
“I lost my contact lens and was looking for it.”
“This is just a 15 minute power-nap like they raved about in the last time management course I was sent to.”
“Whew! Guess I left the top off the Whiteout. You probably got here just in time”.
“Boy,that cold medicine I took last night just won’t wear off!”
“If you listen closely you can hear the ocean”
“…and I especially thank you for my excellent boss, Amen!”
Can you give me a brief overview of what it is you do in your work?
I serve as an Employment Advisor at the NC Works Career Center at Tillery Place. I also do my outreach at the Healing Place, Dress for Success, Cameron Village Library, and West Regional library.
What would you say most motivates you to do what you do? What are the goals you hold personally?
My love for working with people is what motivates me to engage in this kind of service. I aim to be a school psychologist at the elementary school level and it’s my dream to open a nonprofit or community center for youth some day.
I was actually doing another AmeriCorps program in New Orleans. I served at the Tulane University Center for Public Service and worked in a school as a Community Engagement Coordinator.
Where did you grow up? What was it like to growing up where you did? Did you go to college? Where did you go, and what was that like?
I grew up in Nashville, North Carolina. I’m from a quiet, laidback environment. I had a really strong relationship with my parents. They were my primary motivators. I was fortunate to attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It’s a huge school and I was very involved with the student body through my sorority.
Did you have any key mentors or people who deeply influenced who you are, what you believe in and what you’re committed to in your work and life? Tell me a little bit about them.
My parents were definitely my mentors growing up. They are very loving, compassionate, and hardworking people. My mom is a secretary at a hospital and my dad works as a farmer. They have definitely influenced who I am and the kind of work ethic I have developed over the years. I am where I am today because of their support and belief in my success.
Did you have any life-changing experiences that put you on the path that led you to be doing what you’re doing today? Tell me about them.
One of the most meaningful and influential service experiences I’ve had was at a summer camp in Virginia called Jacob’s Ladder. I worked with youth as a counselor and I realized how I want to enter a profession that gives me the opportunity to shape and mold young minds.
What do intend to do after your service with AmeriCorps? Go to school or continue with other employment avenues?
I plan to attend graduate school in school psychology at Appalachian University next fall. I am very excited to take the next step in my professional development!
- 1 ½ cups of chocolate chips (I prefer dark chocolate)
- 15 large marshmallows that have been cut in half (it is best to wet a your scissors so the marshmallows will not stick to the scissors)
- 10 Reese’s peanut butter cups
- ½ tbsp. of oil
- 1 box of Graham crackers or Teddy Grams or both!
- 1 cast iron skillet
- Heat your oven to 450 degrees.
- Place your cast iron skillet in the oven to warm it up.
- Remove skillet from the oven and pour ½ tbsp. of oil to coat the bottom and sides of the skillet.
- Once your skillet is coated, evenly layer 1 ½ cups of chocolate chips.
- Place your Reese’s peanut butter cups evenly over the layer of chocolate.
- Then place your marshmallows on top and cover as completely as possible.
- Place in the oven for 5-7 minutes at 450 degrees.
- Remove from oven and wait 5 minutes before serving.
The key is consistency. Sometimes on a monthly, weekly, or even daily basis, I see familiar faces come into the office or to one of my outreaches. Even though I’m on friendly terms with these clients, their main goal is to find a job and when they accomplish their goals they are gone and never return… in most cases. Just this month, two of my “regulars” have found employment! This makes me extraordinarily happy! This never would have happened if they had quit looking for work. When people say looking for a full time job is a full time job they mean it.
There is one client I have seen come in the office and the library and worked her tail off looking for work. At first she took a seasonal job, expecting to be let go after the holidays. Her employer saw something in her to that made him want to keep her on the payroll. Though it was part time, it was still something. She didn’t stop there either. She spent the next few months applying for job after job after job, going to interview after interview after interview and was not hearing back from so many prospective employers. She never gave up. A couple of weeks ago, she came into the office with great news. She had gone to an interview and the employers said one way or another they are going to find a position at that company for her. She was hired in place of an employee on leave and if that employee comes back the company will try to find another position for her. It’s refreshing to hear about someone getting a job instead of losing a job. However, that is the nature of this environment.
My other client is one that I had worked with in the library and had come down to the office for our services and to go to the outlet mall. I probably worked with her for about two months. We worked on her resume, her cover letter and quite a few job applications. She also would go to the library on her on the weekends and apply for jobs. I had noticed she hadn’t been in the library for a couple of weeks and I thought either she got a job and didn’t tell or she had given up on her job search. Thankfully, it wasn’t the latter. As it turned out, she had interviews during my outreach hours. Then one week as I’m working with another client, I get a tap on the shoulder and who else could it be? She had told me she had multiple job offers and she got to choose where she wanted to work. Having options sure is nice. I am very happy for her.
Another one of my regulars has been looking for a new job almost since the time I began my service here. He has been pretty diligent in his job hunting efforts, and he’s had several interviews. I recently heard from him that one of his latest interviews was very promising. I really hope he gets the position he for which he applied. He really wants to leave his current job, and I don’t blame him hearing the way he speaks about it. I know he’ll get what he is looking for if he keeps trying. Each failure brings us one step closer to our goal.
Even though I sometimes don’t feel like I’ve done that much towards helping people gain employment, I never fail to hear this part, “I would have given up with you hadn’t encouraged me.” They don’t say those words exactly, but that’s normally the message that gets communicated to me. So a little encouragement and diligence can make a world of difference.
As we draw to a close in this episode of Put America Back To Work thru AmeriCorps, I constantly think of the drive of the employees working so hard to promote this mentality. A challenge and a hard task to meet halfway with some of the clients we’ve had. Many happy faces we’ll remember, of those who became employed after such efforts were lost by them and turned over to strangers willing to help. When I think of all the going beyond the hours and the many follow up phone calls to make sure employers were doing as they should or the client following through on personal advice, we hope in our mentality that we will get the same respect back we challenge the employment system for a better life also. The Bible, if I may respond on behalf of our group efforts, says that we should “Love our neighbor as ourselves”; well I believe we have excelled in that scripture.