This is our last newsletter for the 2014-2015 year. It’s been great having a team of creative, talented and thoughtful writers. Each newsletter, blog and picture that was posted would not have been possible without their effort and support. Our process is pretty simple. At the beginning of each month, I’ll give my team members deadlines. About half way through the month we share our ideas of what our articles will cover. On the due date we turn in our assignments, and I edit them on our WordPress profile. I’ll create a cover page. Then, I send my edits to the Deborah and she’ll make any edits that I missed. After that, I’ll review it one more time and it’s finally posted and you get to read the final product!
Speaking of final products, we have the slideshow that played at our graduation ceremony last Friday in place of the usual Priya’s Pics that you may have become accustomed to. Well most of the pictures in the slideshow are her pictures, so in a way you’re still getting a Priya’s Pics section. Anyway, it has been a yearlong process, but its production took a good three months of on again off again work. Little by little, it started to come together, and I think it came out alright. If you want to watch it, it will be below Rick’s Reflections. Thank you for reading our postings and making our WordPress profile a success.
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
And if that is true, then our Members this year have surely found themselves. This is the last column for our 2014-2015 AmeriCorps Workforce Development Newsletter. I can’t believe the service year is also done. Our Members have gone above and beyond for their clients this year, and for their team. We have blown away our year’s goals and helped many many clients not only find employment but also feel better about themselves and the job seeking process. Each client that a Member of our team helped, talked to, smiled to, nodded to . . . was made better by the experience. Each job that was found is a true treasure. Our Members should be enormously proud of themselves and their accomplishments! It has been a privilege and honor to work with our Members this year. They have taught me a great deal. I look forward to hearing about their continuing journey!
Graduation is upon us. Transitional periods like these are usually a time for reflection; a chance to look back on the experiences we’ve had and examine how we have grown or changed. Furthermore, they are an opportunity to assess the impact we’ve left behind when we move on to the next step in our journey. So, in looking back on our service year with AmeriCorps Access Workforce, what mark have we made during our time here?
The numbers are clear: this year, we served over 2500 customers, performed over 1100 hours of outreach, received a 96% customer satisfaction rate, and helped nearly 150 clients secure employment. These numbers are huge, and we have exceeded our service goals in nearly every category. But is that the only way to measure our successes? Do numbers and statistics capture the essence of service?
The truth is, we have achieved much more than a few impressive statistics during our service year with AmeriCorps. Through our work at the centers and outreach locations, we have connected one-on-one with individuals from a wide variety of backgrounds and socioeconomic situations. We have heard their stories, shared their burdens, and done our best to provide a little hope or encouragement through the educational services we were able to offer. Whether that was helping that client create the perfect resume, practicing for an upcoming job interview, or finding them an affordable laptop for their training course, we have made a difference in the lives of the customers we’ve served.
Those moments in which our clients breathed a sigh of immense relief, or shared a jubilant laugh, or even tried to buy us lunch as a form of thanks, those are the ones that truly demonstrate the impact we’ve made this year. Because it is in those intimate spaces that we are able to strip away all of the differences between ourselves and the people we serve and connect on a personal level, one human being to another. Those moments remind us that our differences are largely
socially constructed, and that seeing someone else find success is far more rewarding than anything we could ever achieve on our own.
So, during our graduation ceremony, as we listened to speakers, exchanged stories, and fended off waves of nostalgia during the slideshow, we reflected back on our time here and felt that we have truly done something meaningful. Not because of the number of goals we have exceeded, but because of the people whose lives we have touched; the same people who have, perhaps unexpectedly, touched our lives as well.
“Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.”
– Joshua J. Marine
Nothing comes easy, and behind every success are hours of plain hard work. We as Employment Advisors motivate different populations to work hard at their goals of seeking employment. Patience is a key entity for the AmeriCorps members, but most importantly our clients. We saw how patience throughout our one year service landed jobs for our consumers. You must work hard and then you must have patience!
Challenges are supposed to be hard. If it was easy, everybody would do it. If you want something, go get it; don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Follow your heart. Are you afraid of something? Just do it. Just do, just do it, just do it. It’s not what you do tomorrow; it’s what you do today. Think of your dream as a giant staircase. With each day, taking that next step and with each little step, it makes a big difference to how much closer you will be towards the top. Here’s something that might help you be more courageous than you already are: count to 3 and JUST DO IT! No turning back. You won’t ever know what could have happened unless you tried.
Normally, when a job application asks you to upload a resume, it’s simple. You find the file, and you upload it. I understand some people not knowing how to do that, but I ran into a particularly interesting scenario this month. As per usual, a client wants to apply for a job. That’s fantastic. As per usual, when we get to the part where we have to upload the resume, she tells me she doesn’t have a resume. As per usual, that wasn’t a real problem. I mean it is problematic to apply for a job without a resume, but we solved that issue with haste. The real problem came from her trying to apply for a job on her iPad. I’m not saying one device is better than the other, but personally I don’t really prefer Apple products.
So, we have her resume on NCWorks and we downloaded it to her iPad. Once it was downloaded, she hit the choose file button and it prompted her for a photo or video. You can’t upload a photo in lieu of a resume; that’s just downright silly. My next suggestion would be to just do the application on the computer, but she was determined to apply on either her tablet or iPad. Since I work with a few people who want to apply for jobs on their smart phone, I didn’t complain about using a tablet device. So we use the tablet which with I am more acquainted. For some reason, even though we downloaded the resume to her device it wouldn’t show up. So we tried emailing to her and saving it to her Google Drive, but it just did not want to show up when we browsed for the file.
At this point, I was getting frustrated. I knew we could get this done on a computer, but she really wanted to finish this application on her tablet. Luckily, I had brought my phone charger, and it’s awesome that a USB charger will work on both a phone and a tablet as a data transfer cable. I downloaded her resume from NCWorks to my laptop, then plug her tablet into my laptop. This time when prompted to upload her resume, I drag her resume, from my desktop to her tablet’s download folder. Low and behold, it finally worked. After nearly two hours, we finally got the resume uploaded from her device! Then she had the rest of the application to do, but I had return to the office. She was very capable of finishing the rest of the application on her own.
As this service year is coming to a close, I’m making sure my clients are capable of doing these sort of things on their own more so than ever. As I’ve stated before, when they ask me a question, I’ll show them how to do something, or really stress reading the instructions with comprehension and play around with the page. I used this method on one client in particular who would call on my assistance in a heartbeat. Just by reading and applying the knowledge I had already taught her, she was able to get through it by herself. I’m hoping that some of the independence that all of our clients have gained will turn into confidence. When you teach someone how to do something, they in turn will hopefully teach someone else they may know having the same issue. With a little luck and patience, that knowledge will spread like a virus.
It’s been a while since we’ve all had a chance to catch up on happening in the team, but as we draw near to our close in this venture, we can always look back at planting flowers or assisting with the beautification of our parks, gardens, sidewalk areas, helping out at the Food Bank or helping to reorganize the Boys and Girls clubs; but our biggest reflections should be the faces of those that succeeded from our efforts to help individuals obtain employment, or that long awaited interview, or that final touch to that resume; even that new set of clothes to go out to an interview. So much for this team to be thankful for.