Dawn Mills, left, and Ken Rudd, right, with their employer Brad DeClercq, owner and chef at The Starboard Grill prepared the food for the Community Employment Program’s open house on Wednesday, Sept. 13. KARLY BLATS PHOTO

Inclusive employment recognized in Alberni Valley

Port Alberni Association for Community Living (PAACL) helps employ individuals with unique abilities at more than 40 local businesses.

The association’s Community Employment Program works with individuals to assist them in identifying what type of work is best for them and how to go about finding a job.

The program has two staff, M.G. Walker and Tanya Parker, who support individuals while employed and also assist employers to ensure the partnership is successful.

“What’s happening now is the buzz is out of how accessible this program is and how the job support and the work that the employees do is 100 per cent top notch,” Walker said. “We all work together in our community and the word of mouth that’s going around now is so positive for us and the people we support. I think that’s part of the success.”

Walker said participants can work full-time or part-time positions depending on what they’re comfortable with and that employers are always happy with the quality of work they’re receiving.

“The employers and employees should be recognized, and the community networking that’s going on,” Walker said. “Yes, it’s us doing our job but it’s the reflection of the good work that our participants do and the employers are so thrilled with the support that they’re getting through us.”

With September being Disability Employment Awareness Month, PAACL hosted an open house on Wednesday, Sept. 13 for employers who utilize the Community Employment program, employees, family members and PAACL staff.

Bill Collette, executive director at the Alberni Valley Chamber of Commerce, employs participants through the Community Employment Program. He spoke, via video, to the crowd at the open house.

“Here at the chamber, for the last four years, our property has been perfectly maintained by the team,” Collette said. “We work quite a bit with the organization and we’re very impressed with them. This program is fantastic, I really encourage any and all employers to contact Tanya or M.G. about opportunities that exist.”

Rick Jorgenson, manager at the Italian Hall, said he is also happy with the quality of work from employees found through the employment program.

“We’ve had a tremendous experience with the employees that we brought in and we couldn’t find or be happier with who we’ve had,” he said.

Karen Tassie works at both Walmart and Tyler’s No Frills, jobs she obtained by utilizing the Community Employment Program.

“I’m always there to help them and I do a good job,” Tassie said. “Tyler, he’s a good employee, he’s happy to see me all the time when I show up for work.”