Volunteer Spotlight: Angela Carson

March 19, 2014 By vincent-uribe

This winter, the Chicago Studio has hosted six ReEmployAbility volunteers, and for everyone involved the experience has been extraordinary and uplifting.ReEmployability is a Florida based company that allows workers who have been injured on their full time job to transition back to work by volunteering at a non-profit organization. Workers are given the chance to maintain their income as they volunteer and recover.Liz points out that in the winter and summer months student volunteers and interns are typically scarce. Thus, in these periods everyone’s productivity falls. But this winter things have been different. With five full time Re-Employability volunteers, instead she had a strong volunteer presence and felt she had a full staff to support her.According to studio coordinator Liz Longo, ReEmployAbility volunteers are often exceptional in their ability to take ownership of their time at The Arts of Life and to have the initiative to assist in whatever ways they can. As hard-working people accustomed to full-time employment, these volunteers manage to keep busy and discern which artists need help most as they go through their day.These volunteers have distinguished themselves in the connection they have made with the artists and the much-needed assistance they have provided for the rest of the staff. Each has found value in their time at the studio, and a new appreciation for people with disabilities and the tremendous benefits that can be realized just by spending time with them. Whether depressed or discouraged, these volunteers’ ReEmployAbility experience has allowed them to overcome obstacles that may have seemed insurmountable in both their personal and work lives.Angela Carson, a ReEmployability volunteer, has developed special connections with the artists. When asked what her favorite part of being at the studio has been so far, she replies with a smile, “Getting Walter to come out of his shell. At first, I was one of the only ones to work with him, and now he talks and laughs with everyone.” And it’s true, Walter is a delight for all of the volunteers to work with.Angela also didn’t know what to expect when she came to us in early December, but now she wishes she never had to go back to her old job. “I enjoy working with them period”, she says, and continues, “If it weren’t for ReEmployAbility, I would never have known about The Arts of Life.” Over the holidays, she missed coming in to see the artists and made a special effort to come back to this position after the break. “They keep you on your toes,” she says of the artists, “they keep you laughing.”For Liz, the new perspective these volunteers gain in coming to the studio is one of the best things about working with ReEmployAbility. “I get to see them try something completely out of their element and totally succeed at it,” she says.Additionally, by exposing relative outsiders to our artists, ReEmployAbility reinforces the broader aims of the studio. “One of our goals at The Arts of Life is to bring the positive contributions of people with disabilities to the larger population,” Liz states. Thus, even after they leave, these volunteers will continue to promote The Arts of Life through their renewed understanding of the people they have worked with.by Krystyna Wazny