As a primary school educator in India and a Hindi instructor for graduate students from Western countries, Oak Park Adult Education and Career Services Librarian Rashmi Swain has long practiced her passion for sharing the empowerment that learning can provide.
So when then Housing Forward employee Suzanne Till approached Swain for support in teaching Housing Forward clients in its Career Passport program, Swain was intrigued.
“I recall Suzanne saying ‘you know how they say it takes a village to raise a child? Well, with homelessness, it takes many villages,’” Swain said, referring to Till’s proposal that Oak Park join the Maywood-based program supporting its clients looking for jobs.
Till, also a former AmeriCorps volunteer who recognized the power of collaboration, asked Swain if she would commit to teaching a small group on short notice, and use library space and computers to do it. “Yes!” was Swain’s immediate reply.
In the Main Library’s Computer Classroom, Swain connected with five Career Passport participants in three, two-hour sessions. Week one focused on computer basics. Week two introduced the library’s strongest online resources for job seekers: Brainfuse JobNow, Business Source Premier, LinkedIn Learning (formerly Lynda.com), and Reference Solutions (formerly ReferenceUSA). Week three was about pulling it all together: finishing resumes, practicing interview skills, and learning how to get access to more—including live interactive online help.
Swain gave program participants library cards, weekly homework, and new skills to potentially move them forward in their job search. She also shared her compassion, dedication, and commitment to learning. As of today, two of the program’s five participants had conducted interviews, and one had landed a new full-time job.
“Members of the class were grateful for the newfound knowledge on library services for employment seekers while developing more trust in Rashmi,” Till said. “Their trust meant it was easier for them to ask her questions and step outside their box of comfort while improving job searching skills.”
Housing Forward Executive Director Lynda Schueler said in an email to the library’s executive director: “Thank you for sharing [Rashmi] with our students, she was a great new addition teaching keyboard skills and job search resources. We very much look forward to making her a part of future classes.”
“It’s so rewarding to be part of a process that teaches skills and offers resources to support change in people’s lives,” Swain said.
Swain also works with job seekers enrolled in Oak Park Township’s Job Readiness Program and has connected the township and the African American Christian Foundation with space to host the Community Job Fair at the Main Library on April 19.
“Rashmi Swain, indeed, is a treasure for the community of Oak Park and the people she serves. It is truly my pleasure to know her,” said Till.