Thursday, November 29, 2007

ReServe at Work with Project Enterprise

ReServist Yvonne Carr and Program Coordinators Beth Dunphe and Vertraille sit at a round table inside the Project Enterprise offices on 125th Street in Harlem.
Beth is describing Project Enterprise’s mission in her own words:

“We provide business loans and training to entrepreneurs who are in most cases just getting started,
through three different loan programs. We provide them with business loans, training, and networking opportunities to grow and expand their businesses. The types of businesses really run the gamut. The gentleman who just won our Entrepreneur Of The Year award does crossword puzzle books that he designs himself. Another owns a barbershop, and he designs T-shirts. We have folks who do bath and body. We have people who kill rats! I mean, anything in between.”

Yvonne was first assigned to work with them in June, “helping them with the financials. Accounts receivable, accounts payable.”

“Yvonne was actually the first ReServist that we met,” Beth explains. “The very first one. And we loved her!”

Vertraille chimes in, “We were sold on the program after that.” And Beth continues,

“We actually just took on a second ReServist last week. After having such a great experience with Yvonne, we immediately looked to ReServe again
because we wanted to bring someone with experience into a position, partly to help round out our staff a little bit. And also to be a more mature--face to the organization, you know? That's one of the things I really love about ReServe is they're bringing folks who have so much talent back into the workplace where they're desperately needed.”

Yvonne explains what about her work with Project Enterprise works for her: “I love it here. First of all, it's near my house. Number one! But--the people here are just wonderful. Everybody here was very open with me, very helpful. They're wonderful here. And the hours are great. I work from 12 to 5, three days a week, and 12 to 4 one more day.”

A former elementary school teacher with accounting experience at a larger firm, Yvonne has been able to bring very simple and practical knowledge to bear in her work here. As she so succinctly illustrates, “They didn't have an expense sheet. And that’s—really—critical!” The table dissolves into laughter.

Vertraille is quick to follow up. “We’re a really small office, and so there are some things that we don't think about because it's a really casual environment. Yvonne is coming from a place where she's worked in a much bigger office, and so she can see--that’s standard, you guys should have an expense sheet! It’s great having her around to give us those ideas and then to implement them. She thought of it. She created the work, then she went ahead and did it. It's fabulous!”

Yvonne sees herself as part of a movement in her generation to return to more meaningful work. “I think baby boomers . . . we're the generation that believe we'll never ‘grow old.’ We just want to hang in there for as long as we can.

"I don't think people should have to retire. They should be able to work as long as they, as long as they feel good. It's nice being at Project Enterprise also because everybody here is at a different stage in their lives,” Yvonne says. “You know--Vertraille has kids, Beth doesn't. We have someone else that's having a baby. So everybody's in different stages, and I think that's a beautiful thing.”

You can see more photos from our visit to Project Enterprise by visiting our flickr site. Click here.

To find out more about Project Enterprise, you can visit their website,

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