In the parking lot at the Communitas provincial office in Abbotsford, the Communitas fleet of vehicles are receiving a thorough detailing. Warren Peterson shows John McSween how to check the oil, the washer fluid, the tire pressure and more. It’s all part of the Vehicle Maintenance Program (VMP) offered through Communitas Employment (CE).
“I’ve been working with VMP for about a year now and I love what I do,” Warren says. “I really enjoy working with my students each week.”
Communitas Employment provides training through classes and coaching so that individuals living with developmental disabilities or mental health challenges gain skills and experience. The goal is to find meaningful, paid employment.
The Vehicle Maintenance Program began in 2017 and trains participants how to do a basic vehicle inspection and thorough cleaning. Over 20 people have completed the program, several of whom have gone on to find employment. Paul McCracken, an employment specialist with CE, says Warren’s patience is an asset to the program.
“Warren makes sure that individuals learn at their own pace and builds on their learning from week to week,” he says.
Paul is also encouraged by participants like John.
“John is a very eager trainee,” Paul says. “He is reliable and always at work on time. His positive attitude is refreshing both for his work coach and also for his co-workers. He would love to find employment in this field in the future.”
John really enjoys the training. He loves cars and cleaning, so the program is a perfect match for him. He also appreciates the guidance given by Warren.
“He teaches and listens to me,” John says. “I like everything about the training.”
Along with checking tire pressure and fluid levels, John learns how to ensure that all the lights and signals in the car are working. He then cleans the car, removing floor mats to vacuum them, cleaning windows inside and out, and wiping all the nooks and crannies in the car’s interior.
For Warren, working with cars is a chance to use his skills and is also a trip down memory lane.
“I’ve been doing car detailing since I was 16 when I started in my neighbour’s used car lot. From there, I moved onto own my own business,” he says. “The opportunity to teach the skills to others is a pleasure. It brings back old memories of good times.”