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Teaching and helping others has always seemed to be a part of Marjorie Ramlow's life.

The 85-year-old Dousman resident has done a slew of jobs throughout her life, including teaching dance and working as an assistant special education teacher. Now, she has found another way to help others.

In March 2017, Ramlow, who has a daughter with a diverse ability, started as a trainer with Opportunities Inc. 

"I think we all have a mission," Ramlow said. "We never know exactly what that mission is, and our parents don't always know what it is either when we're first born. But the thing is, that's what I do now. Working with these special people is trying to find what their special purpose is, what their special gift is. You have to be kind of like a detective."

Opportunities Inc., which has a location in Oconomowoc, has a goal of providing services for individuals with diverse abilities so they can be independent and contributing members of the community.

"Our whole mission is to really advance individual engagement in the community and their independence through social skills," said Robin Kennedy, vice president mission advancement at Opportunities Inc. "We work with youth and adults with diverse abilities."

As part of the program, Ramlow has worked with individuals at Goodwill, Kmart, Steinhafels in Waukesha and other businesses as well.

"My duties are to teach them how to do a certain type of work," Ramlow said. "I go to different locations. Sometimes I go to three different locations in one day. Some days my day starts at 7:30 a.m. and doesn't end until 5:30 or 7 at night. It just depends on where I'm supposed to be."

Ramlow's daughter found work years ago through Diversified Personnel Services in Oconomowoc, a division of Opportunities Inc. So about a year ago when Ramlow was looking for something to keep her busy, she thought being a mentor at Opportunities Inc. would be an ideal fit.

"Some people are afraid to start a job," Ramlow said. "I feel sometimes these people that I work with are a little afraid. I try to give them confidence. If you're enthusiastic, that's kind of contagious. If they realize that I am really interested in helping them, once they feel that rapport, that helps them to become more confident, and then they can do more."

Kennedy said Opportunities Inc. looks for mentors or job coaches of any age.

"It doesn't matter what age you are," Kennedy said. "What's neat about our skills trainer network is we are seeking those individuals. That's why the network is so neat because you can work flexible hours. You choose your hours."

Anyone who comes into the network as a mentor, which is a paid position, goes through training and an orientation.

One of the things Ramlow enjoys most about her job is helping the individuals become independent so thatone day they can perform their responsibilities on their own.

"It's always thrilling when you feel they can kind of do it without you, even though that you know you're out of a job," Ramlow said with a laugh.

Journal Sentinel - February 27, 2018 


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