In the heart of Meriden, Connecticut, the newly renovated Meriden Public Library has become a hub of opportunity and community support. On July 26th, 2023, Sarah Elanaya, New Haven Basic Literacy Program Manager, and Denise Calabrese, Meriden/Wallingford Program Site Director, visited this vibrant space, where the American Job Center (AJC) was hosting the Meriden Career & Resource Fair. Little did they know that this visit would turn into a meaningful day of connections, unexpected opportunities, and the potential to change lives.
Earlier that week, they had already visited the American Job Center, and it was at that point that they extended an invitation to the Literacy Volunteers (LV) team. The AJC event was geared towards individuals in search of employment, and while it was always their intention to lend a helping hand, they were unsure of the impact we would have on that day.
Their primary mission for the day was to find a suitable candidate for a job opening requiring bilingual skills available at the LV’s Meriden office. The search for the perfect candidate commenced, but as time passed, it seemed like finding a bilingual individual who also matched the position’s qualifications was proving to be quite a challenge.
However, as fate would have it, their quest led them to a young woman who was not bilingual but displayed an impressive array of skills and qualifications. Her genuine interest in the Meriden outreach position caught our attention, and we found ourselves contemplating an alternative opportunity for her. It was then that we considered offering her an internship in LV’s Meriden office. Her impressive resume and determination were hard to ignore, and the Meriden office was in need of an extra set of hands, specifically, someone like her.
This serendipitous encounter reminded us that sometimes, the perfect fit for a role isn’t always the one that matches the job description to the letter. They realized that by offering her an internship, we could not only provide her with valuable experience but also potentially uncover untapped talents and skills that could benefit our organization in unexpected ways.
Their journey at the Meriden Public Library didn’t stop there. During the event, they stumbled upon individuals who faced language barriers, those who did not speak English. Recognizing the potential impact of our English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) program, Denise managed to set up meetings with three new students who were eager to learn English. These connections emphasized the importance of our ESOL program and the profound impact it can have on the lives of individuals seeking to overcome language barriers in their pursuit of employment opportunities.
This successful day was a poignant reminder of the power of community engagement and the potential to make a difference in unexpected ways. It reinforced the idea that sometimes, the most meaningful connections and opportunities arise when we least expect them. We left the library that day with a renewed sense of purpose, knowing that our actions could help change lives, open doors, and create a stronger, more inclusive community.
In the end, it’s not always about finding the perfect candidate or adhering strictly to job descriptions; it’s about recognizing potential, seizing opportunities, and making a positive impact on the lives of those we encounter along the way. LV’s participation at the Meriden Career & Resource Fair in the Meriden Public Library served as a testament to the profound difference that can be made when individuals and organizations come together with a shared goal of building a better, brighter future for their community.