Jordan's Story: Community Partnerships Help High School Volunteer Find Ideal Match
Written by Jodi Smith, Volunteer Solutions (Annandale office)
What happens when a talented student from Chantilly High School, the Virginia Insurance Counseling and Assistance Program (VICAP), ServiceSource, and ENDependence Center of Northern Virginia (ECNV) join forces? Everyone benefits!
Upon completing several community work experience assessments, Jordan Gonzaga, 19, exhibited both strength and an interest in data entry. He is now the new VICAP data entry volunteer for the Fairfax Area Agency on Aging. His important job is to input crucial information in the SHIP NPR (National Performance Reporting) system. He works three afternoons per week at the county's Pennino Building in Fairfax under the supervision of Mari de Leon, VICAP Manager.
De Leon oversees a very busy group of workers who field a myriad of phone calls from older adults who need help with Medicare, Medigap, drug plans, and long-term care insurance plans. Each call generates a lot of data.
Understandably, de Leon was always inundated by information that needed to be organized and tracked. Gonzaga's skills and de Leon's needs were an ideal match! It's a win-win. He gets work experience, and VICAP gets much.-needed assistance. Gonzaga says that he enjoys the work and plans to volunteer at least through the remainder of the school year.
Gonzaga was able to connect with VICAP with assistance from his Career and Transition Resource Teacher at Chantilly High School, Susan Collins. Collins strives to assist students by helping th.em obtain work experience to prepare them for meaningful employment.
Gonzaga also receives support through ServiceSource's Autism Bridge to Learn and Empower (ABLE) program that supplies him with a job coach, Elizabeth Graviano. Additionally, Gonzaga receives support from Fairfax County Public School job coaches, Jennifer Decamp and Paris Marotta. All three coaches provide guidance and support to promote Gonzaga's success.
Completing this remarkable collaboration, the ECNV assists Gonzaga with navigating public transportation so that he can commute to and from the office successfully. Selvin Garcia, ECNV's Travel Trainer Director, works with Gonzaga to cover this practical aspect/reality of work life.
Left to Right: Michele Bechtel, Elizabeth Graviano, Jennifer Decamp, Selvin Garcia, Levi Gonzaga, Mari de Leon, Phyllis Lyght; Seated: Sue Collins and Jordan Gonzaga
Some may view partnerships with skepticism since the more parties involved, the greater the possibility for confusion or duplication; however, this hC?rmonious collaboration builds on the strengths and missions of each party/organization as they all share the same overarching goal--helping Gonzaga learn, grow, and succeed. This project captures the reality of a win-win for everyone.
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