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Meaningful Work Creates Independence

Today is a work day for Michael. He makes sure that he leaves himself plenty of time to get ready. Once he’s showered, shaved, and brushed his teeth, he gets dressed for work, making sure that he puts on his name badge. Michael also makes sure that he’s packed his own lunch. When he’s ready to go, he gives himself enough time to get to work so that he won’t be late. Today it’s a nice day, so he’ll walk to work. If it had been raining, his sister would give him a ride, something for which he is grateful.

Michael loves his custodial job with the Abbotsford School District

Michael works in Custodial Services for the Abbotsford School District, cleaning spaces at Yale Secondary School. He loves his job.

This is the best job I’ve ever done.– Michael, custodian

In many ways, Michael was made for this job. His parents felt it was important for all their children to participate with chores in the home, so Michael learned to vacuum, clean floors and bathrooms, clear the table and load the dishwasher.

“I like it when things are spotless,” he says.

Michael has also gained work experience through the Community Living Program (CLP) Employment Services at Communitas. CLP Employment offers classes and coaching, giving people who live with diverse abilities the skills and experience they can use to help them find meaningful, paid employment. Through CLP Employment, Michael has had opportunities for work experience, cleaning at the University of the Fraser Valley. He’s been a paid employee at the school district since March.

Cleaning tables is one of the many tasks Michael works at each shift.

Ray Velestuk is the Secretary Treasurer for the Abbotsford School District. As one of the largest employers in Abbotsford, Ray says they felt an obligation to provide equitable employment opportunities for every member of the community.

“People with disabilities are integral members of society and, when provided with suitable job accommodations, they really can thrive,” he says. “Through partnerships with organizations like Communitas, we’ve been able to update our employment contracts to provide for their members to learn, work, and succeed with meaningful employment opportunities here at the Abbotsford School District.”

Michael with Employment Specialist, Dan

Dan Penner is an Employment Specialist with Communitas. Dan believes that Michael’s attention to detail and willingness to learn make him a great employee. Having a secure work environment also makes a difference.

“I believe that his confidence has grown since he began his job with the school district,” Dan says. “He knows what is expected of him and always comes to work with a fantastic attitude. His coworkers appreciate him and value the contributions he makes, which also makes a difference.”

Michael has his own custodian cart, which he uses when he’s cleaning at Yale Secondary. He has a variety of tasks including vacuuming, sweeping floors, wiping tables in classrooms and the cafeteria, stacking chairs and more.

“My favourite task is dry-mopping,” he says. “I like to make sure there is no dirt in a classroom. I know I’m successful when I can see no dirt anywhere and my co-worker says I’ve done a good job.”

Having a paid job has given Michael another level of independence as well. He’s proud to be able to buy his own lunch supplies, a new pair of running shoes, and a birthday gift for his grandmother.

“I like being independent,” Michael says. “It makes me feel awesome.”

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