Putting Bacon on the Table: Highlighting Inclusive Employment

Each year in September, WorkBC celebrates Disability Employment Month throughout the province. By acknowledging our local employers who are leaders in inclusive employment, we strengthen our relationships and create program awareness to other businesses who haven’t yet considered hiring a person with disability. WorkBC left it up to each agency to determine how they would like to celebrate in their community and Employment Services got busy planning. This year, the staff hit the road to deliver certificates of appreciation from WorkBC and our own window decals for inclusive businesses to proudly display. These freshly branded decals will continue to be handed to new employers who go on to hire a job seeker in our program. Our goal is to grace as many storefronts as possible throughout the area we serve.

Staff visited over 20 employers who are actively working with Employment Services to support their employee/s to be successful in their workplace. Together these employers have well over a hundred years of longevity from their employees proving once again that real work for real pay is the real deal!

When asked what having a job means to him, Evan Ashopenace, grounds and building attendant at The Old Courthouse Inn, says “It means a lot, it puts bacon on the table. It’s a lifesaver, ya’ can’t live in the world without it.” As far as being part of a team goes, Evan proudly stated “I’m liked, I’m welcomed, I have friendship and connection. I have to try to keep this job, try not to lose it.” Like many, Evan’s position was affected with a temporary lay-off recently. In early August he was asked to return and he was thrilled to be needed back on duty. “It was really hard when Covid 19 came, I thought the apocalypse was here! I‘m part of a skeleton crew at work, there are only four of us…I’m glad to be back.”

Owner Kelly Belanger has worked with Evan for four years strong now and says that Evan is a hard worker, always early and is always there when they need extra help.

On having Evan return after his Covid lay-off Kelly didn’t have to think long for a response saying, “We felt it, my staff kept asking when he was coming back, we missed him. When I phoned him to ask if he could join us again, I could hear Evan jumping and screaming for joy before he even hung up the phone!”

Having a diverse workforce isn’t something Kelly even considers as noteworthy. “Evan is just one of us.”

Stories like this remind us how work brings so much more to people’s lives than just a paycheck. Having one’s absence felt and being integral to the operation is the number one goal for the team at Employment Services and it’s the key indicator that the right match has been made.

While September is the month we acknowledge our employers, we can remember everyday that work, as Evan stated, is about friendship, connection, and, for some, a real lifesaver. Having work is indeed something to celebrate!

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