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FY22 Annual Report Our Givers: Volunteers

Meet Keith Burgh, TotalChild® Workforce Mentor

TotalChild® Workforce supports teens and young adults through high school graduation, into and through post-secondary training or education, and onto a stable job and self-sufficiency.

Keith Burgh is spending his retirement giving back to his community. He currently sits as Vice President of the Roc Center, which focuses on Education, Recreation, Business partnerships, Community Support, and Spiritual Growth and Development in the Oakhill-Jackson area of Cedar Rapids.

The Jane Boyd Community House is just down the road from the Roc Center, and the more Keith learned about the Four Oaks programs offered there, the more he became interested in volunteering. The TotalChild® Workforce program fit perfectly with Keith’s background in Human Resources and his strong focus on customer service. He is able to identify the skills needed by young individuals entering the workforce.

“I got the chance to work with an organization who’s working with young people who don’t have all the skills yet, and aren’t aware of how to build a resume, don’t know how to do interviews—I can jump in and add some value with all the years I’ve spent in my career doing just that,” he said.

In his former roles, Keith hired for his company internationally. His team was bringing on nearly 700 employees a year in the US, and more than 2,500 globally. After hiring thousands of staff, he’s developed a keen eye for a good resume and he hopes to share his knowledge with the younger generation of employees. “The resume writing and interview skills they learn come into play quickly,” he said.

Keith participated in the TotalChild® Workforce PATHS program to see what the young adults in the program learn about preparing for employment. “There were things they taught that took me well into my early 30s to learn, and it would have helped me dramatically to know them earlier.”

Keith shared the two areas young people should focus on for employability: communication and problem solving. “The biggest challenge for me was understanding communication styles. I had to learn a lot about how people like to receive and give information. Do they want the big picture, do they want the details, do they want to talk about it or do they want to read about it? Communication is essential for getting work done. Those are really high-level skills for people to develop, and it takes practice, but I hope these young folks understand the value of learning how to communicate effectively with different people.”

Problem-solving is another critical asset, according to Keith. He is an expert in Lean and Six Sigma, methods that provide organizations tools to improve the capability of their business processes. “I look at: how do we improve it, how do we get more work done, how do we make it easier for the people doing the job? If you can make these kinds of improvements at your job, your company is going to keep you around forever. It’s important to me that these young individuals understand how to solve problems in the business world.”

Another PATHS lesson Keith found valuable is learning how to budget. “The finance lessons in the PATHS training are great for young adults. They teach how to plan for every dollar, how to get rid of debt, how to save and invest, all of those things that are critical,” he said. “The value of money is something they need to learn, and they get an introduction to this in the class.”

Keith just began working with a new mentee, and he looks forward to seeing what they can accomplish. “I’d like to see results from my work with them—that they’ve got a job that they can grow into and learn from. The results of what we do now, I may not see for five or 10 years, but that’s OK. Because that’s how long it takes to develop people.” 

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