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Sergio Navarrete-Reyes - A Connecting Communities Success Story

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Introduction

Sergio has been a participant in the Easterseals Oregon Connecting Communities program since January of 2019. Sergio has some learning disabilities and other psychological conditions which have created barriers to gainful employment. His goal has always been to work in public schools as a teacher’s aide. This is what led him to our program - he hoped to build skills and connections that would enable him to accomplish his dream of becoming a teacher's aide.

Sergio has always been a hard worker and very determined. Before coming to our program, he was able to complete the High school Equivalency Program at the University of Oregon and take some college-level classes at Lane Community College in Eugene.  He also was able to study and pass academic testing with OSEA (Oregon School Employees Association), doing the WorkKeys ACT testing where he was able to get the highest scores in Applied Mathematics and pass with high scores in Reading for Information and Writing. When he came to our program, he wanted to increase his computer literacy, learn more about American working culture, continue to work on his English skills, and receive help in the job search process and job readiness training.  Sergio was already fully bi-lingual, but he wanted to improve upon his writing skills and increase his vocabulary.

Starting With Computer Skills

Sergio started taking computer classes with our Eugene instructor, Jon, and he became fully proficient in Microsoft Word. He was also learning how to use Microsoft Excel when he became employed at Head Start of Lane County. While working with our team, Sergio not only learned to type, but he has since managed to increase his typing speed to 25 words per minute with 100% accuracy!  He learned how to use email, web browsers (Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge), Windows 10, Google Maps, and other programs to improve his English skills. This includes online dictionaries and a website called News in Slow English, where people can study vocabulary, grammar, and writing skills through reading and listening to contemporary news stories. Sergio learned how to use the website GCF Learn Free to improve on his computer skills, and he began using tutorials to reinforce what he learned in classes related to Microsoft Word and Excel. He took 1-on-1 classes with instructor Jon for all things related to computers, American working culture, and interviewing skills. Sergio also participated in our work-readiness workshops and group computer classes.

Building Employment Skills On The Job

Since that time, Sergio had been able to work at a part-time job with the Eugene Emeralds minor league baseball team during the summer of 2019 to support himself, while still taking classes at our Connecting Communities office during the days. Sergio exceeded expectations, soon being put into a position that allowed him to supervise many of the people there on our team and to translate for the Emeralds’ staff when communicating with Spanish-speaking employees. Sergio had also done some volunteering in the 4J school district as a teacher’s aide. This was particularly exciting for Sergio because he loves working with kids. He would bring his guitar to class every day, and he'd sing with the kids in the classroom to help facilitate learning.

Setbacks to Overcome

In the fall of 2019, Sergio got hired in his dream position as a teacher’s aide with Head Start of Lane County. Our staff helped Sergio go through the lengthy process of applying, registering with the Central Background Check Registry, and doing all the trainings and onboarding process.  He was assigned to the Lane Community College Main campus and really loved that job.  Unfortunately, he was involved in a car accident in December 2019, breaking his hip, ankle, and heel in the accident.  Due to the time it was taking to recuperate after the injury, and to the COVID-19 pandemic that had started, Sergio’s position at Head Start was no longer available, as they had completely closed down through the rest of the year 2020.

Using the Downtime to Grow

Sergio took some time to recuperate from his accident and did an amazing job of working on doing physical rehabilitation and taking good care of himself. He soon came back to our offices and began working on computer-skills workshops, language classes, and job-readiness trainings again. He took 1-on-1 computer classes to continue improving on skills using Microsoft Word and Excel; and he began looking for jobs again, though there just weren’t too many opportunities available in the education field due to the pandemic. As things started to open up again, Sergio and Rosi, our Eugene job developer began to search for jobs.
As Head Start opened back up, some new and exciting opportunities arose for Sergio. Rosi helped him complete the long application process again and helped him prepare for interviewing; and after going thought the interview process, Sergio was hired by Head Start of Lane County in July 2021!  Rosi helped him complete all of the onboarding and training processes, including 30 different classes on CPR and other trainings integral to employment with Head Start. Rosi was also contracted as Sergio’s job coach, and she continues to support Sergio on the job, in his daily tasks, and in his training.

Dreams Acheived Through Determination

Sergio is absolutely ecstatic to be working again, and it would not be possible but for the hard work he put in throughout his rehabilitation and getting back into job-search mode. Rosi provided invaluable assistance though the various steps of finding the job opening, working with the employer, helping apply, completing onboarding, working with natural supports on the job with team members and Head Start staff, and encouraging Sergio to make it through the numerous trainings, supporting him all the way through. The entire Easterseals Oregon Connecting Communities Eugene team worked tirelessly to support and prepare Sergio in his new employment, and Sergio has worked very hard to accomplish his long-term goal of becoming a teacher's aide.

We're so proud of you, your hard work, and your accomplishments, Sergio!

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