Skills for a lifetime

A young Wapakoneta woman has had the opportunity to work at different types of jobs, and through this, she has learned she enjoys working with animals.

Her involvement in a county transition program helped her to discover this passion.

Sharon Temple is a student in the Auglaize County Transition MD (Multiple Disabilities) program and she started the program after she graduated from Wapakoneta High School in 2011. This transition unit is through the Auglaize County Educational Services Center (ACESC).

The premise of the program is to teach students how to function as independently as possible and build job skills. A student can be in the program for up to four years, or longer in some cases.

Temple is currently placed with Mercy Unlimited, and she works for them every Thursday, but she is about  to say farewell to her fellow co-workers there as she ends her nine-week course at this job site.

“This has been a wonderful program for both sides,” Mercy Unlimited Volunteer Services Coordinator Charlene Smith said. “At Mercy Unlimited, we get to meet wonderful young people — including Sharon.”

Each week that Temple visited Mercy Unlimited for a two-hour period, she was assigned a number of tasks to complete — including hanging up, pricing and putting tags on clothes. The tags helped determine how long they have been on the rack in the retail store.

“My favorite part is hanging up the clothes,” the daughter of Melissa and Jack Temple said.

Nineteen-year-old Temple said this is her second year in the program, and she also works at the St. Marys Living Center, where she has cleaned dishes and washed clothes.

In the past two years in the program, she had worked at Fassett Farm, in Cridersville, where she groomed horses for the Equestrian Therapy Program. She has also gained experience at the Heartland Animal Clinic, in Wapakoneta.

“We do get a say where we want to work,” Temple said, “and the teachers make the final decision.”

Other than working in retail, Temple said she wants to one day work with animals.

“I like trying new things, and seeing what I might like,” Temple said. “I want to work with animals because I like to play with animals.”

Temple has been gaining work experience through these jobs, and her teacher, Intervention Specialist Nancy Mauter, said the program depends on employers in the community for their support.

Mauter explained there are 13 job sites from the area that work with the Auglaize County Transition program, and a few include Best Western, Rick’s 501 Motors, Riverside Art Center and Mercy Unlimited.

“Mercy Unlimited is great,” Mauter said of Temple’s current employment. “It offers a different perspective than other job sites, as it gives a retail aspect we never had before.”

Mauter said the whole idea with the job sites is it gives work experience, it helps students zone in on a career field and it gives them hands-on experience. Each nine-weeks during the school year, a student is placed with a new employer in the community.

“We are fine-tuning those work skills,” Mauter said.

When the students are not at their job site, they are in the classroom learning curriculum to help them to develop the vocational, daily living and recreation skills they will need to be independent adults.

Mauter said that Temple is a great worker and student.

“She is fantastic,” Mauter said. “She will make someone a nice employee one day.”

Sue Zwiebel, Temple’s job coach, who works for ACESC, comes to the job site with her each week and agrees with Mauter.

“She is a hard worker,” Zwiebel said. “She’s not afraid to jump in and tackle new things.”

Zwiebel said the students have goals they make at the beginning of the nine-weeks, and said Temple has met her goal.

“Her goal was to not be as shy as she started out when she came to us,” Zwiebel said.

Zwiebel said Temple reached her goal, because she asks questions to her co-workers at Mercy Unlimited.

Smith notes Mercy Unlimited is happy to open their doors to the program.

“Mercy Unlimited is proud to be apart of the program,” Smith said,” and we are willing to help anyway we can.”