By Yvette Scorse, Communications Manager
“Diane got a job!”
The news rang out in the Byte Back office recently one afternoon.
Diane Dallas jokes that even though she graduated in 2013, she “can’t get away from Byte Back.” She’s served as a volunteer, sang “You Gotta Be” and “There’s Hope” at Breakfast Bytes fundraisers and, most recently, was a paid development intern at Byte Back. But she is more than all that. Diane is joy. She brought joy into our classroom, into our community, and into our office. That’s why hearing that she got hired is a reason for our community to celebrate.
Here’s how it all happened …
Unemployed but Not Undetermined
“I was unemployed three years.” Diane repeats “three years” several times, like she’s slowly digesting the fact that this period in her life is finally coming to an end.
Unemployment can really pull a person down, but “you don’t stay there.” “While you’re there,” Diane says, “you work on yourself and say, ‘What can I do to elevate myself?‘”
Training to Elevate Herself
Besides finding more time to embrace her talent in sewing (she sews dresses for herself and her granddaughters and made a pillow, which she sent to the Obamas), Diane was also eager to build her skills and experience.
Diane found Byte Back, where she took the Office Track course in 2013. She sought out other resources in the District, including services at the DC Department of Employment Services like the Senior Community Service Employment Program. That’s how she ended up at Byte Back this year, this time as an intern.
She also took advantage of a free opportunity for seniors and studied for two semesters at the Graduate School USA to earn her certification in nonprofit management. The program was difficult but not impossible for Diane.
“Even at my age, you’re never too old to learn,” she says. And she proved that to her grandchildren – five and 10 years old.
At her graduation from Graduate School USA, the 10 year old looked at Diane in her cap and gown and said, “Grandmother, I am so proud of you.”
You can tell, as she shares this, that Diane is just as proud of herself as her granddaughter is, as we all are.
Putting Knowledge into Practice
“Until you’ve actually worked at a nonprofit and seen the inner workings…., you don’t know.” Diane was eager to connect her training to the real world.
Her months as a development intern at Byte Back made her feel that the position was made for her, that she was “handpicked” to be here.
The biggest thing Diane learned? “The operation of a thriving nonprofit organization, not just a nonprofit organization, but a thriving nonprofit.”
What made the experience great for her was the team, including Marianne Alicona, director of development, and Christopher Wallace, development associate. “What they gave me is something I’ll hold and cherish,” Diane says, and you can see in her eyes that she will always be grateful.
“Everybody [at Byte Back] is working toward one goal – to help the community,” and it shows. “This was the place to learn something new, it wasn’t just a host agency,” she says.
Diane recently started her new job as program assistant at the Department of Health Care Finance in the DC government.
“Just because a person is here today,” she points down, “and they might be here tomorrow,” her hand stays down, “don’t count them out. Because not only am I going here, where I was,” her hand stays level at her eyes, “I’m going higher,” she shoots her hand above her head.
She doesn’t see her three years of unemployment as a waste or something that kept her down, because she has made the best of it and gained so much.
“Knowledge is powerful. Nobody can take that away from me – I have it here with me,” she says holding her hands against her chest.
“I did it,” Diane says, her smile rising, “and look at the reward. Look at the reward.”
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