Tuesday, June 4, 2013


This week we are sharing an interview with Ryan de la Garza a member of the Madonna Workshop staff. After fulfilling a variety of job roles at the Madonna School, he moved to the Workshop in 2011 to manage client programs. His care and attention to detail allow members of the Madonna Community to continue to learn and be active members of society.

You've met him before as a guest blogger focusing his attention on clients. To understand the value of the Madonna Shop and the work they do for the community, it helps to also meet the staff and hear their perspective:

What is your role at the shop?

I am a program manager at the Workshop. I oversee each of our clients’ paperwork and ensure that it is up to date and compliant with state regulations. It also affords me the privilege of assisting our director – Robin Moses – in crafting new skill programs for our clients, which allows me to engage in formal writing, an activity I greatly enjoy.


How long have you been there? What were your previous job roles with Madonna?

I began my tenure with the Madonna organization in 2007. I was first employed at the school where I held a variety of positions, including paraprofessional, vocational coordinator, and most challenging of all: assistant basketball coach. I was transferred to the Workshop in 2011 to manage client programs and it continues to be a fun and constant learning experience.


What do you like best about the Madonna Shop?

My favorite aspect of our Workshop is that it provides a meaningful alternative to similar programs by giving individuals who want to work the opportunity to be employed in a fashion similar to competitive employment. A meaningful day is what one makes it; for our clients, they find meaning in having a real job where they work 5 days a week and are productive for a regular shift just like the role models in their lives, be they mom and dad or brother and sister, etc.


How are individuals served at the Shop? What is everyday operation like?

Each morning, our clients arrive via ENCOR passenger van or private transportation and enter one of five assigned workrooms to begin their day. We currently have contracts with six local businesses, which provide our client base with a variety of six separate work tasks. Considering that we also take on a number of short term contracts with other companies throughout the year, each client is able to engage in a different work task every day of the week, a diversity that helps to keep each individual interested and free from monotony, while making money in the process.


Do you have any funny or exciting stories from your time working at the Shop? 

There is no shortage of excitement and humor here on a daily basis, but I think it is worth mentioning an interaction I had with one of our clients out in the community. During a normal workday, it isn’t always apparent the positive influence one has on consumers’ lives and it may remain as such until a chance encounter at the grocery store or a concert, etc. In my case, it was at a staging of a zombie-themed drama. Unbeknownst to one of our workers, I planned to attend a play at the Rose Theater in which he was an actor; I even brought three of my friends along for the fun. The joy in his reaction upon our arrival was exciting and meaningful for us both in that, for him, I was there to see his performance and for me, he cared that I made the effort. It was a pretty powerful moment in which he and I both felt acknowledged.


What are you interested in outside of work?

Outside of work I enjoy playing music and performing stand-up comedy. I no longer drum for any bands, but my drums still get a lot of use. Drumming is a great creative outlet, but as an adult I think it is more work than it’s worth to arrange weekly practices with 3-4 other people who have families and jobs in any attempt to advance one’s self artistically. Also, lugging around a bunch of drums and equipment gets pretty old and my car doesn’t appreciate the abuse. Those are a couple of the reasons I’ve taken to stand-up: I don’t have to worry about others’ schedules or gear; it’s just me and a microphone. Whether they’re laughing with me or at me, as long as they’re laughing…



1 comment:

  1. If you want to see Ryan de la Garza tell jokes live in front of confused audiences all around Omaha, please visit OKPartyComedy.com for a complete list of his upcoming shows.


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