MATC/Goodwill Partnership Benefits Interns and the College


May 01, 2015



Heather beamed as youngsters from MATC's Oak Creek Campus Child Care Center sat at her feet in rapt attention watching her read and share pictures from a book on shapes. Heather is one of 24 interns who have worked at MATC during the spring semester as part of Goodwill's Community Access Program, which is designed to provide community-based work experience for individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities. Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Wisconsin is on the cutting edge of a new trend in working with individuals with disabilities. Through the Community Access Program, they connect individuals to volunteer jobs tailored to their personal interests and strengths in community settings. The interns serve in community jobs one or two days a week, under guidance of Goodwill staff. Other weekdays, they work at Goodwill.


Heather reads to youngsters in MATC's Oak Creek Campus Child Care Center twice a week.

Bridge to Future on Their Own

Serving in community jobs gives interns a chance to interact with people and fully integrate into the community, said Molly Gilgenbach, director of work services for Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Wisconsin. “Community Access is a sort of bridge for interns working toward a future on their own,” she said. “Training is intended to strengthen social skills, job readiness, independence and connection to the community. We find that having interns work in the community helps them grow by leaps and bounds.”

Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Wisconsin has about 60 individuals in the Community Access Program. At this time, about one third of the interns work at MATC’s Downtown Milwaukee and the Oak Creek campuses. The partnership with MATC started more than a year ago and has grown to include more interns. Susan Heitman, retired MATC occupational therapy instructor who still teaches occasional classes at MATC, was instrumental in developing the partnership between MATC and Goodwill.

 “Susie’s connections with the college were invaluable to starting the partnership,” said Gilgenbach. “MATC is our anchor site for the Community Access Program and is a key partner in the initiative. We are so grateful for the college’s participation in this program.”

At the Oak Creek Campus, Goodwill interns work in the library, the information/welcome desk, the administrative offices and cafeteria/food services. At the Downtown Milwaukee Campus, they work in the cafeteria/food services, the bindery and Building Services. When appropriate, interns switch assignments every few months to broaden their experience and keep learning new skills.


Michael interns at the information/welcome desk at MATC's Oak Creek Campus.

Internship Customized for Heather

Heather originally was assigned to work in the library but when she told Oak Creek Campus librarian Jenn Medved how much she enjoyed working with children, Medved devised a plan to help her gain more experience in child care. Medved and Ginny Gest, Goodwill’s lead community integration specialist, work with Heather on lesson plans to share with the 3-5 year olds in the Oak Creek Campus Child Care Center. Gest and Heather regularly visit the Greenfield Public Library to find books to fit the weekly topics.

“I teach the children about things like colors, weather, shapes, patterns or zoo animals,” Heather said. “We do activities to help them learn. It’s a lot of fun. It takes a lot of planning. I have to think about the age of the children and what they like.”

MATC is our anchor site for Community Access and is a key partner in the initiative. We are so grateful for the college's participation in this program.

Molly Gilgenbach director of work services, Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Wisconsin

MATC child care worker Mary Bell welcomes Heather’s assistance. “We love to have guest readers, especially if they come back repeatedly. Children need to get used to being around a variety of people. Everyone has their own strategies. It takes a while to build up a bond with the children. Heather has done that.”

Michael is another intern using his MATC job to work toward his future employment goal. He would like to become a receptionist, preferably in a hospital setting. He works at the information/welcome desk at the front entrance to the Oak Creek Campus, greeting visitors, asking them to register for guest parking and giving directions. Michael was born blind, so he relies heavily on hearing people as they enter.


Christopher bags cookies to be sold atMATC's Downtown Milwaukee Campus cafeteria.

Building Self-Confidence

“This job allows me to interact with people and builds up my self-confidence,” Michael said. “I meet a lot of people. It gives me a chance to get to know people of different ethnic backgrounds and to become friends with the students. I always try to have a good attitude for work and a welcoming spirit.”

At the Downtown Milwaukee Campus, roommates Christopher and Steven choose to intern in the Student Center cafeteria. They wipe down tables and chairs, collect trays, clean microwaves and assist with stocking duties.

“I like it,” said Steven. “I like doing the tables at lunch time, working in the kitchen, stocking things and talking to the students. I like it when they ask me questions. People are kind and good here.” He would like to be a stocker at a grocery store one day. “This will help me reach my goal,” he said.

Christopher said that packaging and labeling cookies for sale is his favorite task. “We gather gloves, bags and labels for the cookies. We tag them and put them on the shelves. It’s fun to see our work in the cafeteria.”

Christopher also enjoys interaction with the students and answering questions when he can. “If I know the answers, I like to answer them,” he said. “ It makes me feel good. People treat me good here. They are friendly. People say hi to me.”

Working on the third floor of the Student Center has its perks, according to Christopher. He and Steven enjoy watching the live entertainment activities held in the dining area for the students during their breaks.

MATC Work Provides New Experiences

Regular interaction with other workers and the public, wearing MATC name badges, buying their own lunch in the cafeteria and riding the bus to their internships are the sorts of things most of us tend to take for granted, according to Gilgenbach. For some of the interns, these are new experiences.

The interns are a big help to MATC, said Dawn Gorski, MATC coordinator, food and beverage, who oversees the Downtown Milwaukee Campus cafeteria. “It is beneficial to MATC and to our department. The interns are an important part of our customer service. It takes a commitment on their part to be here regularly and on time. We started by having them clear and clean tables but they were looking for more challenges, so we added the stocking duties. They are very helpful.”

Karen Kiley, Goodwill community integration specialist, explained that Goodwill’s partnership with MATC is ideal because of the variety of jobs and work environments available to the interns. “There’s something for everyone here. Through this partnership, our interns have an opportunity to explore many different types of work. MATC helps expose them to lots of possibilities and prepare them for jobs.”


Steven stocks the cooler at the cafeteria at MATC's Downtown Milwaukee Campus.