If you have a child with Autism you probably don't look at summer as a vacation time. School is out and the great search for 'what to do' begins. If your reading this I don't need to go into much more detail because your still living with it.
Last spring, (2013) as summer was approaching, Jennifer said she was interested in restarting the job search. Looking at another summer headed our way, I completely agreed. Alex had had a good year under his belt with his school and home jobs. We felt it would look solid on a resume. Maybe we would have some luck this time around.
Because we had had such bad luck with out last approach we decided to try the opposite. Lets find the volunteer coordinators at businesses and contact them directly, we thought. Alex loves the public pool, maybe there were volunteer jobs there? We found the coordinator and asked if anything was available. He said he would get back to us, and then he didn't. We contacted him a few more times with no real results. Why? What am I missing here, I wondered.
We learned something interesting at this point. Even though you find the person that can say yes, often they don't. Finding and managing a volunteer staff takes time and resources. Often the non profit coordinators are unpaid, or paid and stretched thin. Sometimes, the person in charge isn't available or interested in putting the energy into a volunteer staff. You just don't know. Finding the person in charge of volunteers and getting a volunteer job are two different things.
So we changed directions again. Maybe we need to take Alex's interests out of the equation and just look for whats available.
Then the volunteer coordinator at Portland Public Pools told us he'd posted some jobs on the website Volunteer Match . We checked it out, we didn't find his jobs but we found lots of other possibilities.
Volunteer Match is an absolutely fabulous site. I was impressed when I first used it, I was more impressed when I looked into the history of the site. The search engine lets you look for jobs based on location, job, interest, age of the volunteer, etc. The age search was fantastic because we'd run into resistance based on Alex's age before. We had a six possible matches in 10 minutes. Best part? I knew if someone took the time to post the jobs they probably had real interest in filling them.
We had our leads. Volunteer Match acts as a go between, much like Craigslist. You fill out a message screen and they send it to the non profit. This time we made didn't mention Autism, it looked as if a 16 year old boy was interested in volunteering (we didn't want to scare anyone).
Now we were in business.