As far back as she can remember, Jennifer Steigerwald has been driven to help others. That trait has benefited her in her personal life and is at the core of her job as a business services representative for the Allen County WorkOne Northeast career center.
Steigerwald, a 10-year employee of the workforce system, recently received a Jobs for Veterans State Grant (JVSG) Annual Performance Incentive Award from the Indiana Department of Workforce Development for her work in not only generally supporting the workforce needs of veterans but working side-by-side with Allen County Local Veterans’ Employment Representative Frankie Billingsley. Her recognition is noteworthy because she is not a JVSG staff member; personally, it is a milestone because she is unaccustomed to receiving awards.
“I haven’t gotten an award since I made honor roll in high school,” Steigerwald said.
The award recognizes Steigerwald’s persistence in promoting the WorkOne brand and career opportunities for veterans and others through emails, digital platforms and hiring events. More often than not, she partners with Billingsley in the outreach efforts. The two visit Region 3 veterans’ organizations and sundry businesses together, including businesses that are veteran-friendly employers.
Their collaboration goes beyond the routine. Last month, they collaborated on finding companies that could provide food and gifts for four military families who were about to have rather dismal Christmases.
“That,” said Billingsley, “is one of the reasons why she is considered an integral part of the veteran connection.”
The tandem approach has other benefits, Steigerwald said. It can lead to expanded perspectives about the needs of veterans and the employers that are considering hiring veterans. It can also lead to more comprehensive solutions.
“We both walk away from the outreach meetings having heard different things,” she said.
Steigerwald struggles to put into words why helping others is so important to her, but eventually manages to muster this: “I believe that everyone who crosses my path crosses my path for a reason and therefore I feel inclined to help.”
There is an even simpler explanation.
Helping others, she said, “is just the right thing to do.”