Inclusive Employment a Mutual Learning Experience
Magnuson Ford has been a fixture in Abbotsford since 2009. It is a dealership that takes pride in providing a quality product and excellent customer service. It is also a business that is proud to be active in its community, getting to know the people in the neighbourhood, and supporting a variety of organizations. John MacMullin is a sales and lease representative for Magnuson Ford. He says that the business has been an inclusive employer since 2011, a natural step for a company that is so community minded.
“We love being involved directly in the community, really getting to know the people and growing together as a community,” John says.
One of Magnuson Ford’s goals is to hire staff who are committed to a high standard of service. One of their newest employees is Richard Braun. Although Richard lives with mental health challenges, he has a strong sense of himself, his strengths and weaknesses.
“Everyone is different and I’m my own person,” he says. “I’m on medication for Bipolar and those sometimes make it hard for me to remember things but I try to keep up!”
Richard works as a Lot Attendant helping to keep the lot itself clean and also detailing cars. He picks up garbage, prunes trees and does weeding around the property. Richard also washes cars and makes sure the interior is spic and span. There are many things he enjoys about his work including the opportunity to work outside when it’s sunny and getting a regular pay cheque.
“I like the work load and the people are friendly and positive. I feel respected,” he says. “Also, I love the free coffee!”
Richard is a graduate of the Vehicle Maintenance Program offered by Communitas Employment (CE), one of many services offered through Communitas Supportive Care Society. CE provides training through classes and coaching so that individuals living with developmental disabilities or mental health challenges can gain skills and experience with the goal of finding meaningful, paid employment. The Vehicle Maintenance Program trains participants who are looking for exactly the kind of employment Richard has found. Stacey Murdoch is an employment specialist with Communitas and says Richard has grown from being somewhat reserved and quiet to being attentive, friendly, and someone who values being part of a team.
“Richard is a kind and gentle person who is easy to be around,” Stacey says. “On a professional level, he is always punctual, appropriately dressed, and always shows up with a great attitude towards his work. I am very proud of how far Richard has come and that he is now working for a great employer.”
John says working with Richard has been a learning experience for everyone.
“Richard had to learn how we work and how to do the tasks assigned to him up to our standards,” John explains. “But we also had to ‘learn’ Richard. We realized that training would take more time but once he has learned a task, he does it. He’s never late for work and he does his job well.”
John appreciates that Richard does not come with any preconceptions. He learns all the time and follows directions well. He is honest and takes responsibility for his mistakes when they are made.
Reflecting on the experience so far, John says he would hire “another Richard” any day. As a person who comes from a military background (27 years in military service), John appreciates order, discipline, and efficiency. Richard, he says, gets the job done.
“He is someone who is willing to learn and be guided. Even though he may take a little longer to do a task, he does not dawdle, he doesn’t gossip, he does what he is asked to do,” John says. “Working with Richard has been a very good experience.”
Top photo: L-R Bill Olejarnik(Lot Manager), Richard Braun (Lot attendant), John McMullin (Sales and Lease rep) and owner, Layne Magnuson.