Woman Achieves Her Dream
January 14, 2001
Woman Achieves Her Dream
by Azriela Jaffe
I am teaching my small children to express gratitude for the basic gifts in life.
Every night during our prayers, each child lists a dozen or so things for which they are grateful. These might include a warm house to sleep in, a mommy and daddy, clothes to wear and their sight and hearing.
The following story reminds me of how blessed I am because whenever I want to, I can pick up the phone and call anyone I want.
Paula Rosenthal, a hard-of-hearing woman, lives in St. Louis. She hired a virtual assistant, Liz Dougherty, to start a new business, HearingExchange (www.HearingExchange.com), an online community for people with hearing loss, parents of deaf and hard-of-hearing children, and the professionals who work with them.
In an organized and interactive way, Rosenthal offers relevant news, articles, advice, events, resources, forums, employment boards and more. HearingExchange welcomes hard-of-hearing people who have chosen any of the various forms of commmunication - oral, sign language, cued speech and others. The Web site is updated weekly and sometimes daily.
"This Web site has been a dream come true for me. I went to law school not to become a lawyer, but to have a background that would help me to be an advocate for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. I have always enjoyed research and writing, and with HearingExchange, I am doing all three."
Rosenthal is able to achieve her dream, in part, because of the assistance of a woman who is not hard-of-hearing. Liz Dougherty is located in Holtsville, N.Y. a long drive from Rosenthal. That doesn't matter - they communicate virtually.
Rosenthal explains Dougherty's vital role in her life:
"I have a profound hearing impairment that has rendered me unable to use the telephone for communication with any reliability. Many deaf and hard-of-hearing people use TTYs or TDDS, which are telecommunications devices for the deaf.
"The problem is that people like me, who used to use the telephone for many years, have a hard time adjusting to using a device where there is an operator in on every call. It is slow, with the operator translating everything the other person says into print.
"Before Liz, I just avoided using the phone and relied on family members to assist me when they could. The big problem was that I hated being dependent on others.
"This summer, I was browsing at Guru.com, which had a feature artricle on virtual assistants. I decided to try this out and went to AssistU.com, the company featured in the article. Within two days, I had scores of responses from women all over the country offering to do all my telephone calls, data entry, scheduling, etc. It was amazing.
"I found a good fit with Liz Dougherty, another woman from Long Island [where I used to reside and my husband still works] who left her job for large computer company so that she could work from home and take care of her children and work around their schedules. She is a true professional and handles any task I throw her way.
"Liz has helped me with HearingExchange by doing public relations work, word processing, scheduling and phone calls. Without her, I wouldn't be able to do things as quickly or easily. We still haven't met, but e-mail many times each day."
Dougherty explains her business and how it evolved:
"I am a certified professional virtual assistant. After seven years as the benefits manager for a large international software company, I began to search for a way to achieve more balance in my life. Juggling the demands of a management position within a large corporation and those of a wife and mother of three young children had grown very difficult.
"One year ago, I was accepted into Assist University [www.Assistu.com}. Assist U offers a rigorous 250-hour training and certification program which perpares personal, administrative and executive assistants to work in the virtual world.
"Virtual assistance is a relatively new profession that can best be described as the art of long-term partnering with a client in order to provide the highest quality support services without needing to be physically present in the client's office.
"Virtual assistance works because of the immediacy and effectiveness of today's technology. E-mail, the Internet, real-time online messaging, fax, phone and overnight delivery help to make it all possible.
"I partner with busy, successful professionals of all kinds: authors, salespeople, consultants, coaches, executives, entrepreneurs, small business owners - anyone who wants to have a more balanced life with more free time to do the things that he/she really wants to do.
"Clients pay only for the eservices they use, so there is no down time. Most clients work directly from their home offices, so partnering with a virtual assistant means they do not have to share their work space or provide equipment, training, furniture, benefits or any of the associated costs that come with hiring an employee."
Rosenthal was one of Dougherty's first clients. Since June, she has established a Web site (www.LizDougherty.com) and her business is thriving so much, she's hired a second virtual assistant to work with her.
Need an extra pair of eyes or ears in your office, but are reluctant to hire a full- or -part-time employee? A virtual assistant might just be the solution you are looking for.
Azriela Jaffe specializes in business and workplace issues. Her syndicated column, Advice from A-Z, appears on Fridays in The Patriot-News Business section. Responses and questions may be emailed to her at email@example.com.
Copyright Sunday Patriot-News 2001.