“Can you help me?”
Carol Manago hears that question a lot, as she volunteers at Goodwill’s Seattle Job Training and Education Center (JTE), where she regularly assists in the Open Computer Lab and with computer classes.
For Carol, helping others has been a meaningful way to give back – and as a former Goodwill student, she understands the challenges of learning something new.
Carol found Goodwill in retirement, after working 39 years with the U.S. Postal Service in labor relations, employee development and other areas. As she searched for a part-time job, she realized that it would be beneficial to broaden her technology skills, and enrolled in a series of computer classes at Goodwill.
“While I was taking a class on Internet use, I worked with the other students when they had questions. My instructor asked if I’d like to become a volunteer instructor’s aide and also support the JTE Open Computer Lab,” Carol says.
Carol has thrived as a volunteer, contributing more than 330 hours of time since last April. She’s clear about why she volunteers: it’s about people, but also about the numbers – specifically, some of the compelling data in Seattle Goodwill’s annual report.
“More than half of the people that Goodwill serves are below the federal poverty level,” Carol explains.
Carol’s volunteer time is personally rewarding as well. “The students are nice and so appreciative,” she says. While she continues to look for part-time work, she further strengthens her own computer skills by mentoring others, such as Iman, a current student who regularly visits the lab. A mother of two young girls, Iman is taking English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) and computer classes.
“Iman is very responsible about completing her assignments. When she asks for assistance, I’m there to support her with getting her assignments perfected,” Carol says.
Many Goodwill computer students are studying ESOL, while others are wanting to communicate with grown children by email and to acquire other new skills for life and work.
Scott Rice, assistant manager of the Seattle JTE, greatly values Carol’s contributions as a volunteer. “With a wealth of knowledge and experience to share, Carol is committed, diligent, present and effective. And finally, she is a lovely person who brings warmth and thoughtfulness into the classroom.”
Carol strongly recommends volunteering at Goodwill, particularly because of the sense of community she’s experienced. “The staff are supportive of volunteers and are excellent teachers. The students are all trying to better themselves and taking on hard challenges – like learning a second language late in life. In my own career, many people helped me along the way, and I like being able to pay it forward.”