2013 Volunteer Excellence Winner Feature: Diane Statkus

Helping veterans re-integrate into the workforce in New England

Returning veterans experience unemployment at a higher rate than the general population and many lack basic skills to pursue a successful job search. With the help of Diane Statkus and a growing group of IBM volunteers, veterans who attend the 1-1 job skill assistance program are able to walk away with a clearer resume, skills for interviewing, and knowing how to search the web.

Beginning in 2011 as one of the IBM Centennial Celebration of Service and continuing into 2013, IBM has provided a day of service to the New England Center for Homeless Veterans, an organization serving thousands of veterans each year who are facing or at risk of homelessness through a myriad of programs.

The center has over 350 residents at any time and run on minimal staff to provide the needed individual time that some of these veterans need. IBM can help fill this gap by providing needed expertise to the veterans to aid them in finding employment.

Using a number of the ODC Activity kits IBMers provide assistance for veterans who are trying to find employment. Through classroom settings we structured 1-1 assistance in computer technology (Word, web, email) and resume writing guidance. They also provide mock-interviews with several veterans and have presented “what to expect in the workforce” – a presentation customized specifically for the veterans.

Each veteran is paired with an IBM volunteer and they work together for 1-2 hours on various aspects of job searching using the “Get the Job” Activity kits. One veteran who attended the session was able to set up his first email account and understood the basics of web searching. He expressed his excitement and said his new job searching capabilities made him feel empowered.

It was critical to Diane Statkus and the team that in volunteering at the shelter the IBMers assist in the development of skills for these veterans who served their country. In 2012 and 2013, IBM “Adopted” ten veterans during the holidays, providing needed items on their individual wish lists, which included everything from day planners to clothes, personal hygiene items and books. As a valued corporate partner, the center invited IBM to participate in a media event highlighting these efforts.

In addition, the IBM has provided manual labor to improve the physical appearance of the 10 story building, which is the largest shelter in the country. The manual labor is helpful, but utilizing the professional skills of IBMers was critical to the center to align with their mission to provide each veteran with the skills to make them independent and self sufficient.

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