Since this story ran in our 2017 Annual Report, Marcela got a job & is loving life!
“If I clean the mess, I’ll be happy!”
Become a leader in supporting
clients in work and volunteering
Individuals with disabilities have much to contribute to the community.
Many of the people we serve have a strong desire to work or volunteer outside of the Center’s walls,
and our programs are evolving to address these needs.
Last year, we focused on building up our group volunteering opportunities, solidifying partnerships with San Francisco Marin Food Bank, Meals on Wheels, and St. Anthony’s; through these organizations, dozens of clients now make regular grocery deliveries to home-bound seniors and help sort and fold items for homeless customers at a thrift store.
For clients who want to work, we provide a pathway as well. Through our Work Ready program, staff train individuals both in the “soft skills” they need to be successful both at the interview and in the workplace and the “hard skills” they need to be ready for a particular type of job. At a recent Soft Skills class, five students practiced what they might say to an interviewer who asks, “Why do you want this job?” or “Tell me about yourself.” They learned that they should speak confidently; they joked about how the interview wasn’t the right time to ask about vacations and breaks.
Marcela Goldberg is one of the students on the Work Ready track and she is already working doing janitorial work at the Center. Before coming here, she attended another day program in Burlingame and she had some part-time work through that program, packaging up tea into boxes. She enjoyed the work.
What Marcela really wants to do is get a cleaning job at a Holiday Inn or another hotel. Her work at the Center is helping prepare her for this. She describes her duties: “Clean the girls’ locker room, take out the trash, clean the sink, clean the benches, clean the toilets and stuff, clean the mirrors, clean the [changing room on the] other side of the pool.” How does she feel after she’s done cleaning? “If I clean the mess, I’ll be happy.”
Marcela is paid minimum wage for her work at the Center. She is saving up her paychecks for a trip to Mexico and, ever the practical person, for “dental health.” She is also saving up for a little bear that sings “I love you” when you press a button.
Steffany Dignum, who runs the Work Ready program, has been working closely with Marcela to get her ready to go out and interview for jobs. One thing all the Work Ready students learn is how to describe their strengths. Sometimes you can have a strength but not know how to describe it. With Steffany’s encouragement, Marcela is learning to use the word “dependable” to describe herself. Steffany notes that she used to check up on Marcela at the end of her shift, just to make sure she had done all of her tasks – and she always had. Pretty soon Steffany realized she could count on Marcela – that she didn’t need to check up on her anymore. “That’s the kind of employee you want, right? The kind you don’t have to check up on!”