Where are they now? - Catching up with 2010 Corpsmember of the Year, Quintin Williams

 

Quintin Williams, a former member of the Utah Conservation Corps, won Corpsmember of the Year in 2010 for his leadership skills and commitment to service. Read below to find out what he's been up to since accepting his award, or find out more about Quintin and his Corps experience by reading his bio from our 2010 National Conference.

It’s been over three years since Quintin Williams worked as a Crew Leader for the Utah Conservation Corps, but he still gives a lot of credit to UCC for where he is today. In the summers of 2008 and 2009, Quintin worked with UCC’s Disability Inclusive Crew; a program that offers service opportunities to people with a wide array of physical handicaps. Before joining the Corps, Quintin's only experience with the disabled had been with blind people like himself. He felt that his experience with the blind and visually impaired community made him knowledgeable about disabilities, but working with members of the Inclusive Crew completely changed his perspective.

“Working in the crew was very eye-opening for me because I just really had no idea what those people were going through and it actually humbled me quite a bit,” said Quintin, discussing in particular how inspiring it was to work with a Corpsmember who had multiple sclerosis. “I’m always frustrated by how I can’t see so I can’t drive and I have to rely on so many different people to get from point A to point B. But some of the other people on the crew, they might not be able to even get out of bed on their own. You take a lot of things for granted even though you don’t realize you do until you’re put into a different situation. It was amazing.”

These days, Quintin is working for the Utah Schools for the Deaf and the Blind. He started working there as a proofreader for Braille classroom materials, but now he will be in charge of all the assistive technologies used in USDB classrooms. Quintin will train teachers on the devices their deaf and blind students use, and make sure these devices work properly. He will also be in charge of managing all the software – such as screen reader programs – that are used in USDB sites throughout the state. Quintin says he can definitely see himself in this job for years to come.

Before joining UCC, however, Quintin – who is now 28 – was not sure where his future was headed. He tried finding work, but few employers were willing to give him a chance. When he interviewed for the UCC Inclusive Crew he was excited that they basically accepted him on the spot.

Quintin says the Corps did much more than expose him to people with different disabilities. As he says, “I feel like without the Corps I don’t really know where I would be. It gave me work experience that employers can really see and I gained a lot of friends and professional relationships from it.”

Quintin is proud of the work he accomplished at UCC. He was part of a team that surveyed public lands and created a database documenting the level of accessibility at parks and campgrounds. Quintin says it’s important to realize that people with disabilities love the outdoors, too. While completing the park surveys, he was shocked by how many campgrounds and parks did not even have wheelchair-accessible bathrooms. He is happy to know that his team’s efforts resulted in information the National Park Service can actually use to accommodate disabled park-goers.

For now, Quintin plans to continue working for the Utah Schools for the Deaf and the Blind. He wants to move closer to work, build up a comfortable retirement fund and start a family. He wants to work on his new hobby of golf. Quintin hopes to use his summers off to finish the last few credits he needs to get his associate’s degree, and hopefully work on a bachelor’s degree.

To young people thinking of joining a Corps, Quintin says:

“The Corps is kind of like a culture or a lifestyle almost. But I wouldn’t exclude the opportunity to join a Corps based on whether it might not be the same kind of lifestyle that you are currently living or plan on living. It’s only a short term thing, but it can definitely open a lot of doors. Just take the opportunity seriously and work hard at it. Not only is it benefiting you, but it’s benefiting community members – it’s bettering the situation for everybody.”