Like all LightHouse Programs, 30% & Growing, our monthly casual meetup to chat all things blind employment, went virtual when LightHouse stopped face-to-face services to keep the community safe at the beginning of the pandemic. Since then, it’s been thriving online with an array of special guests and spirited conversation from blind people with all levels of work experience.
In January of this year, Community Outreach Coordinator Sheri Albers took over the virtual gathering and here are Sheri’s thoughts about running 30% & Growing in a virtual format:
“When I offered to take 30% over, I was told I could make it my own. It was important to me to keep the “happy hour” theme of the event. If people were having a stressful day at work, I wanted them to have some place to come have fun.
“Of course, planning it is not the same as attending it. Not to mention we’re talking about doing it on a Zoom platform. You can’t have multiple discussions at once, like you would if people were in a bar or restaurant. As the facilitator I have to make sure everybody has a chance to participate. Also, there’s a fine line between staying on topic but also allowing conversation to go off on a tangent sometimes. I want 30% to be a relaxed atmosphere.”
How does running 30% & Growing differ from your other work as Community Outreach Coordinator?
“It was important to me not to make 30% another ‘Meet You at the House’ where I talk about the different services LightHouse has. 30% is about working and finding work. Everyone who comes is a LightHouse student, but this is a time for them to get to know each other and share tips.”
How do you draw on your own work experiences when planning and running 30%?
“Well I talk to other people about what they’re experiencing and a lot of us are going through the same things. I’ve experienced Zoom fatigue and I know others have, too. People have talked to me about work from home fatigue as well. I also listen to the news talking about how people have lost their jobs and are having trouble finding resources. I use some of my own personal experience when I plan topics for 30% but the experiences of other people, too.”
How do you research and find guests?
“I have a large network of blind people I know from my years of doing community work and working with blindness organizations. I’m able to use that to help me find guests. I always say in 30% that networking is hugely important to helping a blind person find work.”
The next 30% & Growing is this Thursday, November 18 from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm. To get the Zoom info, contact Sheri at SAlbers@lighthouse-sf.org or 415-694-7331.