An Excel Wizard With Kindness to Spare

Mike Carroll The Opportunity Junction family tree has many branches. Everyone from our staff to our Board of Directors to our participants helps make us the organization we are. One group that we couldn’t function without is our dedicated and selfless volunteers. We’ve had countless wonderful people volunteer their time and expertise to help OJ’s participants over the years, people like Mike Carroll. Mike, who teaches Microsoft Excel at our Technology Center, has made an immense contribution to Opportunity Junction.

Since first volunteering with the organization in 2015, Mike has donated more than 1,500 hours of his time. Mike’s impetus to volunteer came as a result of wanting to make an impact in his community. “After retiring from my work as a civil engineer,” he recalls, “I wanted to help save the world one person at a time. Excel and computer skills are essential for getting a job, and I had experience with Excel throughout my career, so it seemed like a good fit.” Given Mike’s tenure and impact, we’d say “good fit” is one heck of an understatement.

If Mike’s desire to help people provided the initial push to bring him to OJ, it’s the people he’s helped who’ve kept him engaged and inspired throughout his six-plus years here. “It’s a lot of fun,” he says. “I appreciate that my students have jobs, they have families. They come home from their job, get a bite to eat, kiss their kids, and then come to class. Those folks are motivated! And just talking with them, joking with them, it’s been a great experience.”

Like all of us, Mike has seen his role change due to the pandemic. In March of 2020, during the middle of his Excel 3 class, OJ had to temporarily cease in-person services and transition to online training. After some growing pains and adjustments, Mike has gained an appreciation for virtual education. “It’s worked out well. Students will share their screen, we’ll work on a problem, other students see the solution. In a way, they help me teach the class,” he notes.

Mike is grateful to the OJ staff, in particular Nadya Poveda and Annabelle Villanueva for helping to make his time spent here so rewarding. “I’d like to acknowledge the staff,” he says. “They make my work, and the work of other volunteers, possible.”

In turn, we here at OJ are endlessly thankful to volunteers like Mike Carroll. Without the generosity and open-heartedness of our volunteers, we’d never be able to serve as many job seekers as we do. Thank you, Mike, and thank you to all of our OJ volunteers. Our family is richer with you in it.

If you are interested in volunteering at Opportunity Junction, head to https://www.opportunityjunction.org/support-us/volunteer to learn more about our various volunteer opportunities.