Last week, we sat down with Connie Kelley, Human Resources Coordinator and long-time member of the One Step Beyond family. Connie has seen and carried out the mission of OSBI in a variety of roles in her time here, giving her a rich perspective in this field. She shared some of her experiences with us in this recent interview:
“So let’s start at the start — where does the story behind Connie Kelley begin? How did you become involved with OSBI?”
CK: “As far as this company goes, I came here as a driver a long time ago and worked my way through. I started just a little over three years now, working through the DTA’s part-time and driving part-time. Eventually I got a chance to come in to HR for a little while."
“Can you tell us more about what you do now? What goes into that process?”
CK: “My work is a very important part of this organization because we have to have certified people who can come in and do this job, and not just anyone can come in and get certified. You have to be a very special person. So, my job is to make sure we’re all in line with everything, get everybody hired, process all the paperwork.
I truly love working with the members, but I love HR just equally as much. It is so much more than I ever thought. I never thought I would ever like this. But, it’s great and I love it.”
"How would you describe your experiences in this field, and with OSBI in particular?"
CK: "I love the people, the staff, the members, it’s just really a great place. I would never trade this job for anything. It’s a blessing to get to come here and serve this population. It’s not a job. It’s a passion. It’s not just anything that anybody can do. You have to have that drive and that desire to do that. As far as One Step Beyond…it is so different than any other place around. I mean there are places that are trying to emulate us, but they’re just not there."
"Could you tell us a little more about that — the differences, I mean."
CK: "They don’t have what we have. The ability to teach classes, change classes and keep the interest, and to keep the focus of the members. As we know, these members don’t always have the strongest sense of focus, and our job is to keep them in line with what we’re trying to teach them. And our members go home, to parents, and they say “Guess what we learned today?! Guess what we’re going to talk about tomorrow?” You know, they’re excited about it, they want more, more, more. And, we’re trying to provide that as much as we can."
"So what might the alternative be, with similar groups?"
CK: "Typically, there are a lot of businesses along that line that do not have that same mind set. They act more like day care facilities. The participants come in and they sit down, and they don’t get up and move around, they don’t change classes, they don’t practice art, or music, or dance, or have recitals. We have that. We offer opportunities for these individuals to get out into the public and to SHINE. Not only by showing off what they know or what they’ve learned, but to absorb things that are out there. They go out and get jobs. They go to these job sites and they work and they learn, and they become more adept to what’s going on and they do what they need to do to have those jobs."
"If someone were thinking about coming to work at One Step Beyond, what would you tell them?"
CK: "I’d tell them to call me. Call me and I can tell you exactly what you can do to improve your life by helping these individuals. It is so insightful working here. I think a lot of our staff members feel the same way I do — and I kind of think if you don’t feel exactly that way when you get there, it doesn’t take that long. The more time you spend with our individuals, the more you find they have to contribute.
Back in what I consider the old days, they were kept at home. They were THOSE people, and they weren’t allowed to go out in public, or go to the grocery store. They didn’t go shopping and they didn’t have jobs. Now, we’re getting them out as much as we can and we’re getting them integrated. They have a lot to offer. And, there’s very few people that you can’t teach. Very few. And, you just need to show them. Our members are here to grow and hone their life skills so we can make them as independent as we possibly can."
"Thank you so much for sharing about your time at One Step, Connie. Is there anything else you’d like to add?"
CK: "The only thing that I’d like to add that I kind of wish, on some level, that we were bigger because there’s so much out there that could be happening. You know there’s more. There more people that would like to be here. We have a great success rate. We have individuals come in on their shadow day, where they come in and see if they get to like it….and they all want to come here. Because, we’re great. We’re a loud and proud group and we’re not ashamed to admit it."