The first thing that people notice about Irenesa Olmo is her smile, followed closely by her sparkling personality and genuinely caring attitude. Together, these attributes make her a consistent source of positivity and engagement at the Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (ABVI).
Irenesa came to ABVI in September of 2013 and continues to promote a sense of comradery and teamwork in whatever role she takes on at the agency. She came to ABVI with an AAS degree in Criminal Investigations. She was awarded both the Dean’s and President’s Academic Excellence Awards culminating a successful academic career.
Irenesa started at ABVI as a Customer Service Representative II in the Contact Center. She was promoted to Contact Center Unit Lead in April 2015 and then applied for and was chosen to become and EPA Information Specialist in May 2016. In this position she assists customers to understand and carry out federal Environmental Protection Agency rules and regulations. She answers questions from callers to the National Lead Information Line, the Federal Lead Paint Program line, and Toxic Substance Control Act line. Irenesa was able to cross-train on 12 different contracts in the Contact Center, adding value for her colleagues and the customers they serve. She continues to seek out new learning opportunities to increase her value to agency. For instance, she participated in and graduated from the Leap Into Leadership program. This program from Goodwill Industries International molded for ABVI’s needs, is an eight-week management development program during which emerging leader’s complete in-person and online modules with a cohort of peers, learning the essential skills of a successful manager.
“Irenesa adheres to the highest standards in everything that she is involved in: be it her daily work, projects she is involved with or administers. Her completed work is of the highest quality and it is always delivered in a timely manner. Irenesa always provides an exceptional experience for her customers and has taken an active role training her co-workers to do the same,” said Larry Palumbos, ABVI Contact Center Manager.
One of the many examples of how much of an asset Irenesa is to ABVI and its customers comes from her work on a project for the agency’s manufacturing department. She made outbound calls promoting new products and reached out to other AbilityOne product providers, as well as making courtesy calls to current customers at Base Supply Centers.
As Irenesa is both fluent in English and Spanish, she has been the lead Spanish representative at the Contact Center since she came to ABVI. She translates scripts for several of the contracts, has trained other bi-lingual representatives, and works on translating and/or simplifying training manuals on various contracts.
“Irenesa brings a true passion for living our values, and demonstrates an ongoing commitment to excellence while always encouraging her peers,” said A. Gidget Hopf, ABVI President and CEO.
Originally from Puerto Rico, Irenesa’s family moved to Orlando when she was three. She lived there until four years ago, when her and her husband of 15 years relocated their family to Rochester where ABVI is headquartered. Since making that transition, Irenesa has become an invaluable part of her work community, as well as an active member of the larger community.
At work, Irenesa serves on the Employee Activity Committee, helping to plan and spearhead events like the annual Employee Holiday Party, the annual Halloween Costume Contest, and other workplace community-building activities. She is also on the United Way Campaign committee. Irenesa’s family shares the same love and appreciation of ABVI as she does. They volunteer with her at ABVI’s annual fundraising event – The ABVI Visionary Gala. They also volunteer at the Employee Holiday Party.
Irenesa and her husband have three children ages 14, 12, and 10. When not working at ABVI or volunteering for one of the many employee events, Irenesa can be found volunteering at her children’s schools for classroom activities, chaperoning field trips, or other school-related activities. Irenesa is also active with the Goodwill GoodGuides® mentoring program. Goodwill GoodGuides® is a national mentoring program for youth between the ages of 12 and 17 who want to learn about careers and prepare for success. The goal of the GoodGuides® program is to equip youth to build career plans and learn skills to prepare for school completion, post-secondary training and productive careers. Irenesa comes in on weekends to volunteer for special activities and parties the program puts together for the mentees, as well as chaperones on field trips the Goodwill GoodGuides® program takes.
Irenesa does all of this while also living daily with the progressive eye disease Keratoconus, or conical cornea. Diagnosed at age 24, Irenesa’s cornea is thinning, transforming from a normally round shape to a more cone-like shape. This cone shape deflects light as it enters the eye on its way to the retina, causing distorted vision. As the irregular shape of the cornea increases, it causes progressive nearsightedness and irregular astigmatism to develop, creating additional problems with distorted and blurred vision. Glare and light sensitivity also affect Irenesa’s vision on a daily basis.
“The diagnosis and the eye disease were both things that took me a while to adjust to,” said Irenesa. “However, with the tools and services I’ve received through ABVI and the New York State Commission for the Blind, there’s no stopping me.”
Irenesa is appreciative for all that ABVI and the New York State Commission for the Blind has done for her and her family. She says it consistently pushes her to go above and beyond.
“I love what I do and I am looking forward to developing my leadership skills so that I can empower others with visual impairments to achieve all they desire,” said Irenesa.