Opportunity Knocks!

CAREER — The Opportunity Knocks! group took to the fields with farmer Daryl Maple after Maple spoke to the class about his career as a farmer.

Last year, I wrote about our Opportunity Knocks! program that had started at our downtown location.

In (very) brief: The Opportunity Knocks! program through our WorkForce Diversity office is an option for people who want to better themselves in some way. They want to receive additional job readiness skills (resume creation, interview skills, etc.) so they can be prepared for when they are ready to seek community employment. They want to learn new things each and every day. They want to make themselves available for when opportunity comes knocking – so to speak.

During the program, persons-served can learn skills ranging from retail to janitorial, clerical, and so much more. If they want to learn specific skills to obtain a certain job, the wonderful staff makes it happen. It’s about giving them the resources that make them available to answer the door when opportunity comes knocking. It’s about giving them the confidence and the encouragement to know that they are worth hearing the knock. Now, you might be thinking that I said there was a way you could help. And, actually, there are two!

First, the Corner Décor gift store. It’s located in the same building as our Opportunity Knocks! program, 127 N. Buckeye St. The cool part about the gift store is that during the day (from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.) the store is staffed by the persons-served in the Opportunity Knocks! program. When you come in, it gives them the chance to practice their customer service skills, math skills, and so on. You also get to walk away with a hand-crafted, unique item that you know benefits the people at Bona Vista Programs. It truly is a win-win!

Second, the Opportunity Knocks! group loves having guest speakers come in to talk about their careers. This gives them the chance to learn about many different careers from people who work them every day, which is so much better than what they can learn in a book or online. It allows them the chance to ask questions and pick your brain about parts of your job that you might consider boring or mundane. They are fascinated by new people and love making new friends.

For example, Alyx Arnett from the Kokomo Perspective came in to talk about what it’s like to work for a newspaper, the education needed to get started, and some of her most interesting moments. Then, another time, Daryl Maple from Maple Farms, came in to talk about what it’s like to work on a farm, how technology is impacting their operation, and how starting your own business could help you leave a legacy for your family longterm.

What’s also cool about having guest speakers is that it sometimes allows them the opportunity to take trips to see these jobs firsthand. After Maple came to talk about farming, the group loaded up a van and went to harvest corn in a field. Some people pulled corn off the stalks in the field while others bagged it into dozens (for it to be given away through Oakbrook Church). Everyone went home with corn to eat and share with their friends/family, and it was so much fun! In addition to being a good time, though, it brought everything that the group had learned full circle.

In September, Teresa Simpson is going to talk to them about becoming a beekeeper, the benefits of honey, and the anatomy of the beehive. They will learn about bees and beekeeping in advance of her visit so they are prepared with questions and have a little background information.

So, who do you know who would be a good guest speaker about a certain career? The more the merrier! We’d love to get a schedule set for the rest of the year.

If you’d like to learn more about the Opportunity Knocks! program or the WorkForce Diversity program, call Vice President of Vocational & Day Services Meredith Freeman at 765-454-5997 or e-mail mrfreeman@bonavista.org. If you’d like to tour any of our other programs, please contact Community Education Coordinator Troy Bowers at 765-457-8273 or tbowers@bonavista.org. As always, you’re welcome to call (765-457-8273) or email me (abrantley@bonavista.org), and I can help in any way I can!