Well it had been talked about for a long time. I think almost my first week in the Smithfield NCWorks Career Center office there was talk of a move happening. I know that moving can be a long and tedious process. At first, I kept hearing there were no places in Smithfield that could accommodate our needs. I didn’t think I would be around long enough to see the move happen. Before I knew it, Clayton was decided to be the new location for our office, and we would be moving close to the end of July. Well, the end of July is here and we’ve been operating here in the Clayton office for a week now.
When compared to the Smithfield office, my first thought is the sheer change in size. The Clayton office is huge. Not only is it huge, but the staff is more spread out in the office. One of the positives to that is we aren’t on top of each other anymore. One of the down sides is the distance I have to go to see the other staff members.
With the new center comes new hours which should be released by the time this is posted. So far, I know we’ll be open later on Tuesdays until 7 PM I believe and closing early to the public on Fridays at 2 PM. So, if you have time come visit us at our new center!
This is the next-to-last newsletter for our 2014-2015 program. I can already feel myself missing our Members who I have come to know and love this year. It’s very exciting to think about what comes next for our Members; some are off to grad school, some are serving with us again(!), and some are off to new chapters that have yet to be written. We did a great exercise with our inveterate trainer, Tex Bennett, in July. We had to figure out how to cross a river fraught with obstacles to get to the other side. There were beautiful lily pads to help up along the way. All of this was a metaphor, of course, for what happened this year. Our Members had so much to learn, so much to experience, and there was joy, along with frustration and sorrow. I hope that the lily pads along the way helped. Our Members are almost to the other side.
Quincy’s Quotes: 10th Round Versus
– Allen Iverson
Allen Iverson will always be remembered as the cornrowed, tattooed NBA great who became a cultural icon for his refusal to conform as much as for his amazing career as the best pound-for-pound scorer in NBA history.
The above quote relates to our clients’ every day fight to find a job. Same fight in the quote is parity to our clients seeking employment each and every day. Different round from the quote means every day will be different and our client needs to remember to keep working hard even when that day is more difficult than the prior day. Learn from each day, for example, that you might want to achieve something on a personal level, such as becoming a better public speaker for a job interview, you can improve your chances of succeeding by reading books or internet sites etc. Work hard, but remember that your clients also need motivation individually and collectively; outings at least once in 2-3 months collectively. Working everyday including holidays will cause a person to fatigue physically, psychologically and emotionally.
Extra motivation for our clients:
Nothing comes easy, and behind every success are hours of plain hard work. It’s really hard to explain, but when you’re really good at something, sometimes you improve too much to a point where you reach the top and you’re satisfied. Then you start to lose all the stuff you learned but you don’t know it because you think you’re so talented. Years later when you can’t even perform something that you would regard elementary back in the days, that’s when you know that you really lost it. Ultimately, it might be too late.
AmeriCorps Member Spotlight: Priya Balagopal
What would you say most motivates you to do what you do? What are the goals you hold personally?
I am most motivated by a desire to end the injustice faced by marginalized populations in today’s society. My experiences in and out of the classroom have encouraged me to learn about issues like oppression, gender-based violence, and systemic inequality so that I can take part in movements to combat these societal problems. It is my goal to help advance the world to a place in which people of all backgrounds can be free from oppression and able to participate fully in all of the opportunities that life has to offer.
What led you to this AmeriCorps project? What were you doing before you came here?
I developed an interest in social justice issues in my junior year of college, during which I took skills trainings on interpersonal violence and completed a service learning project on mental health issues in the Latinx community. I went on to take a sociology course my senior year in which we explored the systemic barriers associated with race, class, and gender in modern society. After hearing from a friend about her experience in this particular program, I felt AmeriCorps would be a great opportunity to explore a career in social work and gain insight from working with a diverse population of people in need.
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 Cincinnati, Ohio. I lived in a neighborhood where economic inequality, crime, and racism were large problems. I did not seem to fit in at the school I attended, and things were difficult. My family and I eventually moved to North Carolina right before middle school and was I fortunate to eventually attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. My experience there was incredibly challenging, transformative, and educational. I was lucky to be part of many of the great programs my university had to offer and I learned a great deal about navigating the system as a student, as well as how hard that can be for students facing issues outside of school.
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.
I was lucky enough to be a part of a leadership development program in college called NC Fellows, and the program director, John Brodeur, was a very important mentor of mine. John and I shared similar life experiences, values, and views on the world. He encouraged me during several very difficult periods of my college experience, and even nominated me for a scholarship which allowed me to participate in an outdoor leadership program before my senior year. I also drew a great deal of inspiration from the captains of my dance team, people who encouraged discipline, persistence, and passion in everything we did.
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.
Unfortunately, I was in an abusive relationship during my junior year of college, which exposed me to the epidemic of rape culture in our nation and throughout the world. Because of my experience, I developed a deep sense of empathy for other survivors of assault and abuse. Furthermore, I became more sensitive to topics of social justice as I realized the complex factors that contributed to interpersonal violence. I wanted to make the world a better place for survivors and other marginalized groups. I spoke with people in various mental health and educational fields and decided that a career in social work would put me on the path to achieving this dream. Therefore, it is not in spite of my experiences, but because of them that I am who I am today.
This month for our group service project, the AmeriCorps team helped clean the newly located Dress for Success Triangle. We helped out by performing various chores for the new building, such as sweeping the warehouse, vacuuming the floors, cleaning windows, bathrooms, taking out the trash and much more.
Dress for Success is a nonprofit organization that offers assistance to low-income women work towards being self-sufficient. The organization assists with this by providing women from all backgrounds clothing for interviews so they may successfully start and maintain steady employment.
Dress for Success began operations in 1997 and was founded by Nancy Lublin. Since then, it has grown and now they are in 19 countries and 140 cities; this includes Raleigh. Pat Nathan, Dress for Success Triangle founder, first encountered the organization when she was on assignment in Europe. A few years after she retired, she returned to North Carolina and brought the organizations mission to the Triangle area in 2009.
Like the other locations, Dress for Success Triangle’s advocates economic independence for all women by not only providing the proper attire for a professional environment, but by offering a network of support and career development skills. Dress for Success thanks the success to the support they receive from the staff, corporate partners, and nearly 400 volunteers who help sort donated clothing and accessories and works with its clients.
One of the organizations that volunteers for Dress for Success Triangle is our AmeriCorps program. As mentioned before, our entire team volunteered for the organization earlier this month. Also, some of our AmeriCorps Employment Advisors volunteer with Dress for Success as Image and Career Coaches every week.
Upon a client’s first visit, the client receives career coaching and an interview suiting. The clients can receive as much career coaching that is necessary. The career coaching includes but not limited to assisting clients with their resumes, conducting mock interviews, building an effective network, distinguish employment objectives, writing effective cover letters, and managing personal finances.
Clothing can be expensive and a lot of the Dress for Success clients have low income. Once a client gains employment, it would not be conventional to continue wearing the same suit she interviewed in. To counter this, the clients are able to receive up to ten items of clothing for their new position.
Clothing is provided by donations. If anyone would like to donate clothes or funding to the cause there is more information on how to do so located at https://trianglenc.dressforsuccess.org/get-involved/donate/.
As the end draws nearer to our tenure with AmeriCorps, I find joy in knowing all of us have worked hard at doing something about the unemployed in this area and this country. In finding so many in need of work, we also have found many that are not work minded and it has brought on many challenges to the group; but this team has been a strong. Don’t give up group. Also, I’m so proud of us all and the leadership we have in Deborah and the whole Work Force Access Development Organization. We can look back now and see the fruits of our labor in the many who are now working.