As they always do when one of their clients lands a job, the staff and clients at the Ontario March of Dimes' Sudbury branch gathered March 22 to ring a bell in honour of Michael Larocque.
Thanks to the help of the agency, which works to enhance the independence of people with disabilities, the 21-year-old has landed a job making dough at the Toppers Pizza location in Garson.
But Larocque, who has learning difficulties, won't be sent out into the working world alone. He'll have a job coach with him, helping to learn how to do the job.
“I'm more of a hands-on person,” he said. “If you tell me go do such and such, I would probably be looking at it, and not knowing what to do. If you're doing it with me, I do better. I get confused easily, also.”
Larocque, who has previously delivered newspapers and worked in construction, said he needs the job to help support his soon-to-be-expanded family. His partner is due to give birth to a baby girl in a month and a half.
The Ontario March of Dimes recently received $920,000 to provide services to youth like Larocque in Sudbury and North Bay.
Simcoe-Grey MP Dr. Kellie Leitch, who acts as the parliamentary secretary to Human Resources and Skills Development Minister Diane Finley, recently travelled to the Ontario March of Dimes' Sudbury office to make the announcement.
The funding comes from the Skills Link program, which helps Canadians develop the skills they need to get jobs.
“This is a fabulous announcement,” Leitch said. “The March of Dimes is a great organization. This will definitely aid in creating jobs here in northern Ontario.”
Janine Roy, the Ontario March of Dimes' regional manager for employment services in Sudbury and North Bay, said the organization is “very excited” to receive the funding.
It will go towards its Achieving Success program, which helps youth between the ages of 16 and 30 who have barriers to employment — such as physical or cognitive disabilities — get jobs.
The Ontario March of Dimes works with employers to create positions for its clients. The organization also provides employers with a 16-week subsidy for their client's wages.
“We have a very well established pool of employers who welcome candidates from Ontario March of Dimes,” Roy said.
Clients also receive in-class training about dealing with job interviews and appropriate workplace behaviour. Then, when clients land a job, a job coach goes into the workplace with them, and helps them to learn how to do the job properly.
Roy said about 50 per cent of the organization's clients are able to get jobs. That compares to 65 per cent among those in the general population who are seeking employment.
The bell which signals new employment hasn't yet been rung for Karli Burk and Ashley Williams, who both live with learning disabilities.
The two young women, however, say they're very happy with the help they've received so far from Ontario March of Dimes.
Burk said she hopes to land a cleaning job or go back to school to take a massage therapist course at Everest College. Williams said she wants to work as a secretary, data clerk or stock clerk.
“March of Dimes is helping me gain self-confidence and be positive, and hopefully be able to find a job which I am suited to working,” Williams said.
To contact the local Ontario March of Dimes office, phone 705-674-3377.
Posted by Mark Gentili