CTEP Great Story Highlight: Member Eric Whalen
The Community Technology Empowerment Project
(CTEP) AmeriCorps program bridges the digital divide for new immigrants and
low-income communities in the Twin Cities. AmeriCorps members help youth
and adults use technology to better access social, civic, educational and
economic opportunities. Each month, we will highlight one of our 'great stories'
from our CTEP members. Great stories help to capture the impact a member
has on an individual in the community beyond numbers.
Great Story written by 2011-2012 CTEP member Eric Whalen serving at Saint Paul Public Library-Dayton’s Bluff
"Jeff has been a welder for over 30 years. Having worked at a variety of companies throughout the country, he’s done every sort of welding there is. So when he was laid off last year, he was confident his skills were good enough to be a desirable candidate for any company. But he was having a problem getting those companies to even give him a chance unless they received his application through their online system. This was baffling to him, but people told him the folks at the library could help him get connected.
I met Jeff in late 2011 and helped him make a new resume on the computer and apply to jobs he’d seen advertised. He understood better than the average baby boomer that he’d have to stop resisting computers in order to succeed at this point in his life, so he signed up for our basic computer class. Throughout the month-long course, Jeff gained essential computer skills and got comfortable attaching resumes to emails and sending out a couple job applications a day. By the end of the month, Jeff informed me he wouldn’t be able to make it to the last class session because he had to start training with the new job he got.
Jeff’s perseverance and willingness to learn new technology skills enabled him to connect with his new employer and spend a minimal amount of time unemployed. It’s a special day for any CTEP member to see their patrons achieve their goals and to know they were a part of it. But it’s also deeply comforting to know that one person’s view of technology has been transformed from something baffling into supportive and empowering."
Eric grew up on a farm in rural Minnesota before moving to the Twin Cities about seven years ago to study English and Religion at Hamline University. The need for professional development and a desire to serve his country without bearing arms led him to AmeriCorps in 2010. He enjoyed serving his own community as an AmeriCorps member so much that he signed up for a second year, which he is currently finishing up this summer. Serving at the Dayton's Bluff Library as a CTEP has helped him get to know the unique personality of his Saint Paul community and gain understanding of the world through others' experiences. Eric teaches basic computer classes and works with about a dozen volunteers to provide job search assistance and homework help to library patrons. He will be continuing work with the Saint Paul Public Library in the fall at Rondo Community Outreach Library.