New program helps The Arc clients prep for the workplace
By Rachel Roubein Times Staff Writer
Alex Bosley works in the kitchen in Dutch Corner Restaurant in Manchester. Bosley is part of a new 12-week occupational readiness program run through The Arc Carroll County
The cards were hot off the laminating press.
Inside the Carroll Non-Profit Center Wednesday morning sat George Schanberger. With his instructor from The Arc nearby, he was cutting paper and laminating them into cards to help out the nonprofit Child Care Choices.
Down below sat Alex Bosley. She was greeting those who walked through the nonprofit center’s doors.
Bosley and Schanberger recently completed a new, 12-week occupational readiness program run through The Arc Carroll County, a nonprofit that provides services to intellectually and developmentally disabled individuals.
The program mixed real-life volunteer experiences with classroom time catered to helping the four participants learn crucial skills needed for the workplace, according to Elyse Weckesser, The Arc’s vocational program coordinator.
“The outcome may not be the same for everybody,” Weckesser said, “but everybody has the opportunity to go through the process to see what their skills are vocationally and what support they would need out in the community.”
Schanberger has a binder filled with a wealth of information from the classes. There’s a sheet with bullet points listing his responsibilities volunteering at SERRV — a nonprofit that works to end poverty by supporting artisans and farmers worldwide — which the occupational readiness students did on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
There are more papers on the binder’s rings that show an example of a paycheck to reminders about how to greet someone to how to maintain a job. “Stay cool, calm and focused on the work,” Schanberger said he learned.
The class performed mock interviews, so that in a real situation, they’d have the answers down pat, said Shelba Uhrin, the program’s instructor and The Arc job coach.
And Schanberger’s strengths? “My organizational skills,” he responded immediately. This was evidenced through a binder and folder chock-full of hand-drawn pictures of video game characters. His dream job is to create video games, and he can spout out information about consoles and game characters without any hesitation. So when Uhrin took her four students to TownMall of Westminster to assess jobs available in the community, his interest was piqued by the GameStop employees.
As was Bosley’s, although she enjoys her current job cleaning dishes and chopping onions, biscuits and home fries at Dutch Corner Restaurant in Manchester.
“The [employees are] my best friends,” she said. “They’re like family to me.”
While Bosley has worked at the eatery for more than a year, the occupational readiness program helped her learn more about filling out job applications, she said. It also taught her how to better greet those who enter the Carroll Non-Profit Center — such as smile and make eye contact — while she sits at the front desk during her volunteer shifts.
“For me, that’s been the greatest thing to see that it does affect the way that they greet somebody, that it does give them more self-confidence in the way that they relate to people,” Uhrin said. “I’ve seen them grow a lot.”
While the 12 weeks have passed, Uhrin is still meeting with a few students to continue to work on workplace skills and apply for jobs. The second occupational readiness program will likely start mid-spring, according to Weckesser, and any client of The Arc may express interest in participating in the small group.
“This was our first round, and it’s a work in progress,” Weckesser said. “I’m sure we’ll have to modify some things to make the program more successful, and those are things we’ll learn over time, but Shelba’s been a wonderful advocate for them.”
Reach staff writer Rachel Roubein at 410-751-5908 or email@example.com.