A conversation with… Johnnie B. of Avalon

By: Avalon Housing

Editor’s note:  In March, I sat down with Johnnie B. Tingle, Avalon’s Employment Support Specialist and AmeriCorps Member, to talk about his work at Avalon.   Johnnie B. had been working at Avalon since October 2019.  Just as we were getting ready to post this interview, the Governor’s stay-at-home order went into effect.  Now, months later, we’re slowly returning to the office.  Here’s our interview, with some updates.

How did you come to work for Avalon?  I came to Avalon through AmeriCorps.   (AmeriCorps, founded in the 1990’s, is a network of national service programs that improve people’s lives and foster civic engagement. Members commit their time to address critical community needs like increasing academic achievement, mentoring youth, fighting poverty and homelessness, preparing for disasters, etc.)

Although I’ve worked primarily in the for-profit sector, in executive property management, I’ve also been involved with a few non-profits, including Travelers Aid and Volunteers of America.  I came across Avalon when I did some training and testing work for the Fair Housing Center.  I have wanted to work for Avalon for a long time.

How would you describe your role at Avalon?  I have helped Avalon clients, both adults and teens, prepare for employment and assisted them in finding and applying for jobs.  I helped people prepare their resumes and build interviewing skills and self-confidence.  I also looked for potential employers to connect people to through programs like Michigan Works.  I sought employers who would hire people through Michigan’s Offender Success program.

What were some of the challenges with your work?  Mostly it was finding more people in the Avalon community who were interested in getting back into the workforce or wanted to change jobs and could use some help. I got referrals from support coordinators whose clients needed employment help.  I also went to Avalon community centers to talk to residents and see who might need help.  I also posted different job opportunities at all the community centers. 

What do you find most rewarding about your work at Avalon? It’s the ability to see the before and after, from that initial conversation to updating someone’s resume and then seeing and hearing about their new employment.  I like helping people.

Back in the winter months, I had a client who was new to Avalon.  I worked with him from about three weeks start to finish.  We worked together to build, format and complete his resume.  We talked through a list of his specific employment interests, like the number of hours he wanted, the type of work and industries he wanted to work in.  We selected three potential job openings, and I helped him apply online to all three.  A week later, I found out he had landed a job at one of these employers, a local pizzeria.  It feels good to know that I helped him!

What’s the best part about working?  Why should people work?  Aside from the financial aspect, it’s a chance to enhance your mindset and your skills.  It’s also a chance to interact with other people and meet new people.  

Is there anything else you want people to know?  I’m happy to be at Avalon.  I had heard for years about the phenomenal work Avalon is doing, and I wanted a chance to be part of the Avalon family.

During the COVID-19 stay-at-home period, Johnnie B. has continued to do essential work for Avalon.  He became part of the team that shifted into pre-packaging food boxes and delivering them to clients to keep them at home and safe.  He is also helping with the Rapid ReHousing Team.

We’re thrilled to report that on June 29, 2020 Johnnie B. just accepted a full-time position with Avalon as a property manager!  While finishing his AmeriCorps services he will work part-time until his contract is completed.