Mary went to work at a Goodwill Attended Donation Center long before they were equipped with computers. Mary has an intellectual disability so, when the computers came in, it was a big change and a big challenge for her. Instead of phone calls and paper tracking, she had to learn how to keep track of donations, order supplies and clock in and out on a computer.
With help from her team and lots of practice, Mary eventually learned the tasks and can now handle them on her own. However, sometimes she needs to perform tasks that are more complicated. That is when she calls on her GoodPartner Coach, Cathy, for assistance. Cathy has always made the most out of those requests by taking the opportunity to show Mary how to do new things on the computer. Each time, she explained systematically what she was doing. At each of those visits, Cathy could tell Mary was listening.
One day Cathy asked Mary if she wanted to learn more on the computer. Cathy was not surprised when Mary said, “Yes – that would be great!” She told Cathy she always thought computers would be too hard to learn. However, now that she has been using them, she is less afraid to make a mistake. She told Cathy another reason it was important to her to learn computer skills was because she wanted to be a better employee.
Cathy realized the tutorials and other computer training materials would be too technical for Mary and she would require hands-on instruction. Cathy had a conversation with Mary’s manager and explained her plan. Cathy would create simple, easy to read, step-by-step “cheat sheets” with pictures that matched the computer screen. She told the manager about the list of tasks that she and Mary thought were important for her to learn.
The plan was that, after Mary mastered the first task on her own, Cathy would bring her another sheet, until she was able to accomplish all of the tasks independently. Mary’s manager thought it was a great idea because she had also noticed Mary’s self-confidence and initiative had improved greatly since she began using the computer. The manager felt confident Mary would be able to complete the project. They agreed to work together to ensure Mary had time to meet with Cathy regularly without disrupting the ADC workflow.
So far things are going great! Using the guide Cathy created, Mary sent her very first email to her GoodPartner Coach. She said the sheet made learning the tasks easy. Knowing there would be more to come, Cathy created “Mary’s Computer Learning” binder to hold the sheets. That way, Mary would have no trouble finding the one she needed.
So far, Mary has learned to send and respond to emails; she even has her very own Gmail account. She knows how to look things up on Google. She is also getting faster on the keyboard as she learns where the letters and numbers are. Mary is receiving lots of praise and encouragement from her co-workers and her manager. All of that support keeps her motivated. She says she especially likes being able to do things on her own.
Mary still has a way to go to become proficient at all the tasks on the list. Nevertheless, she is excited about learning more and is having fun doing it. She looks forward to learning everything on the list and, with Cathy’s continuing help as well as the support of her manager, there is no doubt that will happen!
Giving individuals with barriers to employment the training and support to ensure their career and life success – it’s what we do …