Colwood resident Mack LaPlante scrubs the kitchen sink at Glenwood Meats where he secured a job through a program at WorkLink that helps those with diverse abilities find jobs.

WorkLink program looks past so-called disabilities

WorkLink helps secure jobs for diverse group in the West Shore

Mack LaPlante isn’t supposed to be working today, but he’s scrubbing the sink anyway.

Unable to take a last-minute shift at Glenwood Meats this evening, the 20-year-old Colwood resident says he feels bad about the predicament, so he scrubs and sprays, donning blue gloves and an apron prepping for a maintenance crew coming in later in the day. His boss and store owner Rick Fisher says, LaPlante has become a welcome member of the team.

“We enjoy having (Mack) around, he is good to get along with, very polite, and like I say, he gets along with everyone … just an all-around great guy,” Fisher said.

“Just the fact that he is born with a little bit of what we could call a ‘disability,’ I look at him and see all kinds of things going for him that other kids don’t have. For some reason, certain people are classified in a different category. (Mack) is great.”

Fisher hired LaPlante through WorkLink, a Work BC employment service centre, and their Supported Employment program. The program works with those with challenges, or identifying as someone with ‘diverse abilities’ including LaPlante, who describes himself as a high-functioning autistic.

The West Shore resident, who bikes to Glenwood Meats three times a week for the part-time job, said finding work has been challenging. He credits Fisher for giving him the opportunity and those from WorkLink, who he said go above and beyond to make a difference for himself and others.

“It’s hard for a young person who hasn’t been to any post-secondary to find a job, even if it’s just some part-time labour,” LaPlante said.

“If you need a job (employers want) experience (but) if you need experience you need a job. At WorkLink they part the waves and give you a direct entrance.”

WorkLink’s Kim Dillon, a job coach for the program, said Mack is not alone. The West Shore community, where many of the clients are from, have been an invaluable partner in making a difference, she said.

“It’s just neat to hear people feeling like they can be included and enjoy the self-esteem and status that goes along with a paycheque,” Dillon said.

“Work is so much more than work, it’s our reason to get up in the morning and it can tell us we are people and we are worth it. It is neat to see the confidence that blossoms from the people we serve.”

She said businesses large and small have rallied behind the 30 to 50 clients the program serves – from those identifying with diverse abilities, including autism, mental health challenges, developmental disabilities, learning disabilities, to those living with addictions and looking to overcome adversity.

“The reason our program is so successful is because we do a ton of background work with people we serve. We spend hours and hours with them and get to know what makes them shine as an individual and the support needs they have, so they can be an asset to the employer,” Dillon said. “That takes time.”

On top of Glenwood Meats, she said local businesses, from Royal Bay Bakery, Evedar’s Bistro and Pilgrim Coffee to larger outfits such as A&W, Westshore Town Centre, Quality Foods, Winners Homesense, Sooke Home Hardware, Designer Shoe Warehouse, Mark’s Work Wearhouse and M’akola ILBC Housing Society, Jesken Aerie are among many they partner with to place those looking for work.

“To be honest, most employers like the idea that they get a hard-working, loyal person who really appreciates the job and the chance to work,” Dillon said.

“The other thing that is really wonderful is the people on the ground, the front-line workers … (they) often feel more invested in the company they work for when that company values inclusion and diversity in the workplace, so it can really raise morale.”

Laplante said for him, it is about roots.

“Trying to get a job with (just) a resume is quite difficult,” he said.

“We should all be very thankful there are all these opportunities and organizations that are willing to lend people a hand. That lets me dig my roots in there, lets me make sure I have my foot in the door and lets me know I have more of a fighting opportunity. I really appreciate that; I like that I have my job here and it’s because of them.”

Just Posted

B.C. Fire chiefs concerned over home-grown cannabis and fire hazards

More legislation is needed around electrical, fire codes

Former hostage negotiator to hold class in Victoria

Cathy MacDonald will teach communication skills on Sept. 26

Can you name all four of Victoria’s ‘sister cities’?

Partnerships with Asian, Russian countries have resulted in tourism, investment opportunities

Saanich churches seek to spread the blessings of pet ownership

St. Luke Cedar Hill Anglican Church will hold its annual Blessing of the Animals Service Sunday

Victoria UnWined helps grant wishes for children facing critical illness

UnWined Vancouver Island raises money for Make-A-Wish BC & Yukon

VIDEO: Tour de Rock rider says event provides badly needed support

Cancer survivor and volunteer firefighter Nicole Emery speaks about importance of fundraising tour

Federal use of A.I. in visa applications could breach human rights, report says

Impacts of automated decision-making involving immigration applications and how errors and assumptions could lead to “life-and-death ramifications”

POLL: How much should rents increase in 2019?

A task force has recommended the provincial government limit rent increases for… Continue reading

Rattie scores 3 as Oilers blank Canucks 6-0

Vancouver slips to 1-5 in exhibition play

Veterans Affairs ordered to take second look before supporting vets’ relatives

Liberal government ordered officials to adopt a more critical eye

Dead B.C. motorcyclist was member of group that raced down mountain road

Some group members record their rides on Strathcona Parkway and post times to page

Indigenous athletes in spotlight at BC Sports Hall of Fame

New gallery to feature Carey Price, Kaila Mussel and Richard Peter

B.C. couple who went missing on flight from Edmonton named by family

Family released a statement Wednesday saying they’re still intent on finding the two-seater plane

VIDEO: A close look at what you were breathing during the B.C. wildfire season

Electron microscope images show soot and tar particles generated by worst B.C. fire season

Most Read