Work Opportunities Unlimited (WOU) is a pioneering and creative organization. We have a long history (since 1982!) of working toward positive employment outcomes for both job seekers and employers.

In NH, WOU is an approved provider of Pre-Employment Transitional Services (Pre-ETS) with NH Vocational Rehabilitation through the State of NH Department of Education. This means that our team assists individuals in their exploration of career options with an eye toward a future career. A Site Assessment allows the individuals to narrow their interests and explore those interests in 40-hour, paid work assessment(s). This has typically meant that the individual will physically be on-site for their work exploration, but enter COVID-19, and that isn’t always the situation anymore! We’d like to introduce you to Sam, a college student who receives Pre-ETS services from WOU, and Tosha Talbot, who is the WOU Career Resource Specialist (CRS) working with Sam.

In our New England service area, WOU has grown to include Keene, NH and surrounding towns. One thing that we have all learned during this pandemic, is that we need to be creative and think outside the box!  Fortunately for WOU and the individuals we serve, thinking outside the box is a specialty of our team members. And in this new service area, our team has developed its first-ever Remote Site Assessment program. This success story will come to you in two parts. We’re beginning with the development of Sam’s site assessment, which has broadened Sam’s purview of an area he has interest in (data management) and has since grown to include GIS mapping as a result of his site assessment with the City of Keene, NH.

Tosha has been working with Sam since October. With the many changes brought on due to the pandemic, she knew she needed to find a different way to help Sam meet his goals. Tosha’s objective in working with Sam, despite the onset of the pandemic, was to continue with his site assessments. A statistics course in college had piqued Sam’s interest in data management. With this knowledge, Tosha went to work for Sam. With her understanding of Sam’s interests and goals, Tosha got creative and innovative. She worked with the Will S in the GIS Department at the City of Keene to develop and establish a Remote Site Assessment with the GIS/Mapping Department. He began an internship with the City of Keene and has been working on remote projects provided by the City of Keene and facilitated with Tosha.

Among the many projects given, a good majority include entering data and drawing with the mapping tools supplied by the City of Keene. If you’re familiar with Keene, you’ll recall fields and walking trails near the airport and locally known as the Edgewood area. These trails have remained un-mapped, but that’s changing now! Sam said, “In the beginning, it was hard for me to complete all the preliminary paperwork. However, in the end it was worth it because working with my Career Resource Specialist, I got an internship during the COVID-19 crisis, something that many people could not do.”

Tosha has been impressed with the growth and development of Sam and his remote work. She states, “Sam is very committed to his work. He adjusted really well to the remote work, and mapping is a learning curve. It is not just data entry, it’s data management.”

We extend a huge thank you to the City of Keene for providing this unique remote opportunity for the individuals we serve. We are thrilled to have discovered another way to continue to serve our clients and our community, even during trying times!

We’ll continue to follow Sam’s story and we look forward to sharing the update on this interesting project that Sam is working on, which will ultimately result in user-friendly recreational trails for the community. Stay tuned for…more to come!