Community Engagement

OUCARES Volunteers Give Back to Help Families Impacted by Autism

Improving the quality of life for those on the autism spectrum

A woman and child walking down a school hallway


icon of a calendarOctober 21, 2021

icon of a pencilBy Catherine Ticer

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OUCARES encompasses the outreach services of the Oakland University Center for Autism. Its mission is to improve the quality of life for individuals impacted by Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) by offering programs and services to individuals, families, caregivers and community members. With a multifaceted approach, OUCARES offers opportunities for professionals, researchers, and the community to get involved in autism programs that help touch the lives of over 2,200 people impacted by autism each year.

Key to the success of OUCARES is a dedicated group of volunteers who serve in various capacities to support programming for people of all ages, including teens and adults. OUCARES programming is designed to help individuals with ASD develop communication skills, build relationships with peers and practice interacting in teams. Examples include social skills clubs, employable skills training, summer camps and recreational sports.

Volunteers play an important role in maximizing the impact of programs on participants and participant families throughout the year. Many assist facilitators in running programs, modeling appropriate behaviors and communication techniques and encouraging a positive atmosphere. Others take on more specialized roles including photography at events, reciprocal communication practice, and administrative support.

One volunteer, Angelo Newby, has maintained a very special role with OUCARES for many years. He helps teen and adult participants build the confidence and skills needed to successfully interview for jobs. A talent acquisition consultant at Fifth Third Bank, Newby is an expert at discovering, cultivating and hiring talent. He calls on those skills during mock interview sessions with OUCARES participants.

“What I’ve always enjoyed about banking is being able to help people. This is another way I am able to serve my community,” says Newby who has helped more than 150 OUCARES participants with their job interviewing skills.

“The most important goal is to help participants have a level of comfort with the interview process and understand that it’s okay to be nervous,” Newby continues. “An interview can be uncomfortable for the person being interviewed but, also, for the interviewer who may be under extreme pressure to find the right candidate for the job. I help people see both sides of the situation.”

Newby works with participants on everything from an initial handshake to maintaining eye contact and answering questions about themselves. He tackles tough questions that often come up in interviews, such as identifying strengths and weaknesses, and records the sessions for further discussion and training.

While the pandemic halted many in-person activities, Newby was committed to continuing his service with OUCARES and found a way to deliver his mock interview trainings virtually. He says he missed being in person, but kept the focus on building confidence and essential interview skills. “I love working with the participants and helping them prepare to find a job and be more independent,” says Newby.

Kristin Rohrbeck, Director of OUCARES, is grateful for the many volunteers who dedicate their time and talents to ensuring the success of OUCARES programs. “Volunteers, like Angelo, make an important difference in the lives of our participants,” she says. “Their support allows us to expand our programs and meet a growing need in the ASD community of Southeast Michigan. I hope more people will get involved with OUCARES to help build greater acceptance and inclusion of the autism community.”

Interested in volunteering with OUCARES? Click here to learn more or reach out to us at

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