Michelle smiled broadly and her eyes shown as she talked about working as an activities specialist at the Pickaway County Goodwill Activities and Training Center.
“I like it. I’m with the people I love the most, but I’m helping them learn stuff and play games,” Michelle said. “I’m just a helper.”
It’s been a welcomed change of pace for the 47-year-old whose past year was fraught with changes like so many others due to COVID-19. Not only did she lose her job helping out with the children’s program at the Pickaway County YMCA, but her day services program – Person Centered Services (PCS) – also closed suddenly in January under the weight of the pandemic.
In both instances, Goodwill ended up being the solution. While Goodwill’s administrative team quickly put together a plan to open an Adult Day Services (ADS) Program in South Bloomfield to help those who attended PCS – the only ADS open in Pickaway County at the time of its closure – Michelle also was connected to Goodwill’s Workforce Development Program.
Employment Specialist Elonaray Perkins began working with Michelle on job readiness services such as resume writing and interview skills. As they began job hunting, though, they had trouble finding job openings in Michelle’s area, Elonaray said. While talking with Missions Coordinator Cana Horner, Elonaray learned of an opening at the Activities and Training Center in South Bloomfield which seemed the perfect fit.
Michelle was no stranger to Goodwill or the Pickaway County Activities and Training Center Supervisor Stephanie Smith. Actually, she and Stephanie first met at the Work Center in the Circleville Goodwill store which closed a few years ago as our centers shifted into Activities and Training Centers.
“Michelle is very determined and does everything to the best of her ability,” Elonaray said. “She was determined to be independent from day one and only had a job coach for six days. She wants to be very successful, and I truly believe she will be at this job and anything else she sets her mind to. She is a joy to work with in any aspect.”
Michelle’s familiarity with those at the center aided in her transition — Stephanie and many of the individuals attending the center came from PCS.
“They’re all a part of our family,” Stephanie said. “Even when Michelle wasn’t working here, she was helping them, and now she can be a leader for them.”
Michelle has been taking on more responsibilities, leading her first small group recently doing things like playing a game and reading a book. Stephanie said Michelle also will help with new work skill stations they’re adding to the center and will assist with some office tasks.
“I’ve always wanted to do that, and now I’m getting paid to do that,” Michelle said. “It’s neat.”