Angel of the Month
Each month, The Angelrock Project features an Angel of the Month and an Angel Interview of the Month, interviews of inspirational people involved in grassroots volunteer efforts and exceptional humanitarian endeavors or who provide unique and life-saving services within large non-profit organizations. We hope that by reading their stories, you will be moved, inspired, and grateful for their tremendous efforts. Below you will find our second Angel of the Month installment.
Interview with Betty Logan, a wonderful women who enjoys giving back to her community by mentoring women moving from welfare to economic independence, has fun with her church sisters, and takes pleasure in the fellowship of her fellow styleWORKS book club members.
Q: Please tell us a little about yourself and your family.
A: I am a single mother of 3 grown children and I have 3 grandchildren.
Q: What happened in your life to lead you to utilize the services of the First Step Job Training Program?
A: I was working for the Federal government and there was a "reduction in force" and so I lost my job in 1996 after 10 years. I had a couple of little jobs here and there, but I found that my age was a factor in finding something good and that I needed more training to compete. I was 54 and having a hard time even getting interviewed, so I needed to update my skills.
Q: What type of training did you receive from First Step?
A: I took computer courses in Word and Excel. I also got some training in using the internet.
Q: How did this training impact your ability to go from economic hardship to a great job in the private sector?
A: The training I received gave me an opportunity to get my foot in the door. I received administrative training and once I was able to get a job in administration, I was moved over to the finance department. I was my company's first intern from First Step and its first hire!
Q: How long have you been at your job and what do you do in your current position?
A: I just had my 7 year anniversary in December! I work in the billing department as a Client Financial Specialist.
Q: We met when you went through the styleWORKS program. How did styleWORKS assist you as you made your way back into the workforce?
A: Participating in styleWORKS gave me more confidence in myself and helped me to know that I can compete with the best of them.
Q: You've stayed involved with styleWORKS by being active with our book club. Explain why you joined and continue to be a member.
A: I love the book club and I love to read. And I love the discussions. I love the "fellowship" as we say in church circles.
Q: Over the years, we have read many, many books. Tell me two of your favorites and why.
A: I liked A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry. It gave me more insight into a culture I wasn't familiar with. I liked The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini for the same reason. I also enjoyed the Maeve Binchy books we read-Tara Road and Circle of Friends. I like how her characters dealt with adversity.
Q: When we meet in the book club, we often end up going off topic and sharing about what's going on in our lives and what we think about different issues. How do you feel about the "fellowship" with our diverse group of women and what significance does it have for you?
A: Usually you are with people similar to you, like "birds of a feather," but with the book club I get a peek into others' lifestyles. Now, I have a Puerto Rican daughter, a Chinese daughter, and lots of new friends. We have become friends outside of the club too, sharing important events in our lives. The group has older and younger women and women from many cultural backgrounds. I'm learning so much and making friends that will be around forever.
Q: Now, you continue to be active with First Step and The Bottomless Closet. Can you tell us a little about these organizations and your role with their programs?
A: Well, First Step helps people like me learn new skills so that they can get work. Sometimes the people have never worked and sometimes they are displaced like I was and running into problems getting back on their feet. I am on the client graduation committee and we follow up with graduates of the program just to keep up with them and to make sure they are employed. My company also helps with the client graduation committee by letting us meet here and have events. We even do a clothing drive and some fundraising for our events. We are starting a newsletter too.
Bottomless Closet provides women from programs like First Step with professional clothes and accessories for interviews and their first months on the job. I'm on the client committee there too and we do events to help the clients stay employed. We help support them as they are transitioning from not working into their new jobs. We have get-togethers with the clients and make suggestions to the board about services we think will help people keep their jobs.
Q: Please share about a particular volunteer experience that has meant a lot to you.
A: Well, as a member of the First Step client graduation committee, I was able to help connect a young lady with someone who helped her get a job after she was laid off. When you don't get a job right away, it can feel like it wasn't worth it. So I really like being a part of something to support graduates when things don't go well and help them celebrate when they do.
Q: How do you think we can encourage more people who have been helped by organizations like First Step and The Bottomless Closet make the decision to give back like you have?
A: Well, you can't force people to give and everyone has a different circumstance. Most of the time I find that you just need to ask people to help. Many people want to do something but they don't know where to start.
Q: If there is one place in the world that you would like to go, where would it be and why?
A: I want to go everywhere! I would love to go to Africa and visit the small villages. I love cities, but I want to be able to get to know the people up close and personal. I'm a New Yorker and I know all about city life. I want to see how people live in the smaller places.
Q: What types of things do you do for fun?
A: Fun, what fun? I don't have time for fun! I'm very active in my church and my volunteer activities. I guess my church activities with the seniors and the praise-dancers are my fun. As a senior myself I think it's important to stay active.
Q: Now, you are known as woman of many, many words! Do you have anything that you'd like to add?
A: I think I have said enough! I'm flattered and shocked to be asked to participate. I've really enjoyed the book club and as we say at First Step, once a "First Stepper always a First Stepper," so I'm glad to be on the client committee. Thanks for reaching out to me.
For more information on The Bottomless Closet, click here. To learn more about the First Step job training program, please click here.