WBZ Cares: Students and Instructors Earn Second Chance Through Operation Able

BOSTON (CBS) – Each month, WBZ Cares highlights a worthy non-profit organization, and tells the story of what that organization does for the community.

This month’s organization, “Operation A.B.L.E,” a Boston-based organization that that provides a wide range of job training and employment services and classes for workers 45 and older to help them get back to work.

As job seekers attend a weekly orientation meeting, they get a warm welcome from Operation A.B.L.E instructors who teach students basic computer and job search skills, introduction to social media and resume writing and interviewing.

These are some of the few classes that students can enroll in according to Operation A.B.L.E President Joan Cirillo. One of the most popular program is for job seekers 55 and over who meet federal low-income guidelines.

“We put them on our payroll for up to 20 hours, minimum wage, interview them extensively, and find out what their skills are, then we are able to place them in a nonprofit or government agency. We hope within a year, they have enough skills, and most importantly enough confidence, that we can move them from our payroll into un-subsidized employment.” she said.

One of the instructors, William Nadler, went through the training nearly two decades ago, when he lost his job as an MIT engineer. He loved the training so much, he’s now teaching.

“I’ve been teaching in the classroom for sixteen years, it gave me a focus for my life. When I was laid off, I just felt like my life was pretty much over,” he said.

Fellow instructor Shirley Fickett takes a very hands on approach with her students, conducting mock job interviews and engaging them in a lot of questions and answers.

During a recent lesson Fickett asks students: “What was the hardest question you heard that day? How did you deal with it? What did you do?”

Fickett teaches a class in medical and health care office training.

“Medical terminology. We’ve added billing and coding, because it is part of the whole software system. And the big component we have changed recently is the electronic health record.” she said.

“Medicare has demanded that doctors use computers for everything. We teach them the fundamentals of that.”

For Fickett, seeing her students thrive and succeed makes it all worthwhile.

“It’s when they get the job and its pride, absolute pride,” she said.

For more information about Operation A.B.L.E, visit: OperationAble.net or the WBZ Cares section on the CBSBoston.com website during the month of May.

More from Kim Tunnicliffe
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