by Joe Strechay
I am packing up my stuff to head to Maine for a few days of work. I will be doing a session with the professionals up there on transition-related topics, as well as conducting a teen employment workshop and a post-secondary preparation session for youth. I will also participate on some panels. I value getting the opportunity to work with the professionals and youth there.
I have now conducted something like 47 teen employment workshops around the United States that reached well over a thousand youth. The workshops have specific components, but they vary a bit by the population and audience needs. As a presenter, I try to stay flexible to the needs of my audience, as I want to make sure what I provide is practical and relevant. I utilize this for presenting to youth, professionals, and adults around the United States. I go in with notes specific to the information I think should be covered, and in many cases that information is accurate. In some situations, I need to adjust the information presented or the group raises other topics.
I have a range of topics and presentations that I can provide to groups, and each year I add more to the list. Over time, I phase some of my presentation out of the queue, and I take the time to update some of the really popular content. The teen employment workshop has really developed over the past two years into its current state. The workshops have been well received. Other audiences have been interested these workshops, too. The workshop has been modified for different audiences and lengths outside of these standard teen employment workshops. I have done a more limited workshop for the United States Business Leadership Network Career Link Mentoring Program, which comprises high-achieving and motivated college students with disabilities from around the United States. The workshops for this group have been more about disclosure and the big question: "Tell me a little about yourself."
I adapt the workshop to the audience, with more basic lessons depending on the group's understanding. I did a follow-up workshop with one group from Milwaukee at Vision Forward, and I expected a lot more from the participants. The youth stepped up to the plate and provided a much better understanding. I wanted to know that they were initiating and taking steps to prepare themselves for the future.
The teen employment workshop series has been conducted around the United States based off a grant from the Jack K. and Agnes K. Ayre Foundation. I feel lucky to work with them so that their contribution makes the most impact possible. This is one of many projects that I work on year to year. I have learned a lot from this project, and I hope to continue it for future years. The expansion of AFB CareerConnect's features, content, and offerings has been all due to the contributions of our wonderful grantors and funders. I have numerous other projects in proposal format for future grant opportunities. I want to make sure that AFB and CareerConnect are making the largest impact possible. I want to thank these donors and others for entrusting AFB and myself with your contributions.
Without our grantors and donors, we would not be able to do the work that we are all so passionate about. The CareerConnect App would not have happened without these resources and contributions. So, pick up your iPhone or your iPod Touch and download the CareerConnect App. You can follow that by downloading the AccessNote and AccessWorld apps.
by Shannon Carollo
If you are an adult, think back to the time in childhood when the idea of working to support yourself seemed novel and fun. You could live on your own, come and go as you please, or eat what you like (maybe that was just my dream, as we were a health food household, and I just wanted Cookie Crisps!).
Enter the real world. There is such a thing, John Mayer. It's not quite what we had in mind, huh? Sure, we can live on our own, come and go as we please (well, my two preschool daughters make this complicated), and eat what we want (wouldn't you know it, I eat healthy now, too). There is, however, much more to the real world.
We feel the pressure of finding a job and performing well at that job, we understand the necessity of a paycheck, and we spend a great deal of time at work or commuting to work. We are usually left exhausted. The stress can rapidly accumulate, leaving us worse for wear.
How can we healthily cope with stress, decreasing the toll it takes on our emotional and physical health?
- Exercise. It manages stress because "feel-good" endorphins are released, self-confidence is gained by exerting oneself, and the mind is distracted from work-related worries when exercising. Not to mention a healthy body can more easily handle stressors. So try to involve exercise in your weekly routine.
- Pursue a hobby. It can help your mind unwind and provide a stress-relieving outlet as you focus on doing what you enjoy. Examine your interests and determine a hobby to pursue in your free time.
- Socialize with others. Regardless of whether you draw energy from time spent alone or with others, you are a social being. You have a need and desire to connect with and relate to others. Acknowledge how much time is ideal for you to spend with others (perhaps daily or every other day), and seek opportunities to spend with peers. Invite neighbors over for dinner, join a social recreational club, participate in a team sport, get involved with church, or become a member of a volunteer group.
- Develop relationships. If you are meeting others through social groups and activities, and taking the time to get to know the people in the groups, you may find you connect well with and enjoy a few others. Having one, two, or three very good friends greatly increases your quality of life, lowering stress levels and improving emotional health.
- Volunteer. A sense of accomplishment and well-being is gained from actively contributing to society. Stress decreases as the focus is taken from your hardship and stress to helping others. Become involved in this mutually beneficial experience.
Partake in endeavors and relationships that enrich your emotional health and well-being, becoming equipped to manage work-related stress before it feels overwhelming.
If you are a teacher or professional working with youth who are blind or visually impaired, utilize CareerConnect's Stress Management lesson series.
by Shannon Carollo
I recently read an article praising Gerry Leary for perfecting the roasting of coffee. I was intrigued; my husband and I roast our own coffee. The article explained that Gerry has no vision, and relies on his sense of smell and hearing, in addition to a talking thermometer, to perfect the roasting process. I continued to read. This man owns his own cafe. I was inspired; an entrepreneur and expert roaster. I wondered if he would talk with me a few minutes and give us his story. I sent him an e-mail and held my breath.
Gerry spoke with me for an hour. I laughed; I teared up; I learned. He told me how he got to where he is today, roasting coffee for his café in Boulder, Colorado.
It started with his parents
As soon as he was able, his mom and dad told him there was housework to be done. "We all live here; we share the workload." Though he had no appreciation of chores at the time (who does?!), he now understands the values of responsibility and discipline the insistence of chores developed. In addition to expecting him to be a contributing member of the family, his parents gave him opportunities to explore interests. As a child, his primary interest was cars. His dad was an auto mechanic and patiently taught Gerry his craft.
It continued with a development of skills
The pursuit of his interest developed into a hirable skill set. Gerry earned "play money" by fixing friends' cars in high school. He proceeded to work as a professional auto mechanic. Over time Gerry realized he wanted to create his own job, and he took a risk: He rented a space and opened an auto mechanic business. He successfully operated it for almost 20 years.
A new passion ignited. Gerry learned he could roast his own coffee. He took a roasting seminar and was driven to perfect the roasting process. He sought a coffee roasting position, but found no such availability. He decided it would be easier to create the job he wanted rather than find it. He took a risk: he rented a space and opened a coffee-roasting café, The Unseen Bean.
It involved overcoming obstacles
While roasting coffee and satisfying customers are the "easy and fun parts" of owning The Unseen Bean, the challenge lies with the mounds of paperwork. Like all good leaders, Gerry recognizes his strengths and the areas where he desires support. To overcome the obstacle, Gerry hired team members who complement his skill set. Together, the team is satisfying Boulder, Colorado's need for the perfect cup of coffee.
If you want to explore careers based on your interests, read Tips for Exploring Careers as a Job Seeker Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired.
by Katy Lewis
I am not the most tech-savvy person in the world. I try my best to keep up-to-date on technology and to fix any problems that come up, but I don't handle it well when it doesn't work out. I usually end up getting into a duel of wits with my computer. Unfortunately, the computer always wins.
After I admitted defeat this last time, I found CareerConnect's newest Our Stories piece about Syed Hassan. Syed is a computer science major and a Web intern at the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB). In his story, he explained how he lost his vision years ago in an armed robbery and has worked ever since toward achieving his goals.
Syed loves technology and learning new things, but he too expressed how he gets tired and stressed when he can't figure out a solution to a problem. Syed explained that pushing hard or trying to work out a solution tirelessly doesn't always produce desired results. He said it is best to take a break and have a fresh mind and relax the body before returning to a problem.
I went back to the problem I was having with my computer and tried to figure it out. I thought about what Syed said in his story and then I got an idea. I e-mailed the Service Desk, which is like issuing a technology SOS at our office. Well, actually, I e-mailed Joe and he e-mailed the Service Desk. Like I said before, I am not the most tech-savvy person in the world.
AFB CareerConnect's Our Stories section features stories about successful people who are blind or visually impaired who are making it happen everyday. Read Syed's story and learn what he is doing to achieve his goal of gainful employment.
by Joe Strechay
I was able to go and speak at the 2014 NFB Convention in Orlando, Florida, but I wasn't able to make it back to the convention after some storms cancelled my flights. Lee Huffman (AccessWorld), Paul Schroeder (VP of Programs and Policy), Carl Augusto (CEO), and Mark Richert (Policy Ninja) are preparing to head out for the 2014 ACB Convention in Las Vegas. I will attempt to come back with my money and belongings (I joke!).
We are excited to see all of the new products in the exhibit hall and network with our friends from around the United States. I know Lee Huffman will be checking out the latest gadgets to figure out future AccessWorld articles, and I will be hoping to encounter some amazing people with cool jobs for CareerConnect's Our Stories. I always love seeing our CareerConnect mentors at these events.
AFB is hosting a breakfast on Monday, July 14, and I hope to see everyone who registered for it. I know it filled up quite quickly. We will be sharing the latest updates from AFB about our apps, AccessWorld, public policy, CareerConnect, our programs, and who will win the NFL's Superbowl. That's right; if you come, you'll find out who will win the Superbowl (last year). When AFB rolls to Vegas, we bring it hardcore! See you at the tables, I mean the AFB Breakfast at the 2014 ACB Convention.
- Employment (64 posts)
- Planning for the Future (49 posts)
- Education (41 posts)
- Transition (25 posts)
- Online Tools (18 posts)
- Technology (15 posts)
- Social Skills (3 posts)
- Personal Reflections (26 posts)
- Getting Around (8 posts)
- Leadership (1 post)
- In the News (6 posts)
- Low Vision (4 posts)
- Social Life and Recreation (11 posts)
- Sports (4 posts)
- Arts and Leisure (3 posts)