The stories of Lucas, Todd and Andrea serve as testaments to the transformative impact of Archway’s Employing People in the Community (EPIC) program. With the support of EPIC, these hard-working individuals have found meaningful work that provides them with purpose, independence and connection.
The EPIC program helps bridge the divide between people with diverse abilities looking for work and inclusive employers who recognize their unique talents.
After receiving referrals from Community Living BC, EPIC staff communicate with employers within their network to match clients with meaningful jobs that would be a great fit. EPIC employers and clients always have the support from EPIC staff to create and sustain a successful match.
“EPIC really helped me,” said Lucas, reflecting on the early days of his job hunt.
When Lucas first met Keith McKnight, his EPIC Employment Specialist, they worked together to understand Lucas’s interests and current skills. It wasn’t long before Lucas started working at a local nursery. It was a good job, however, Lucas wanted to find a job that was more stimulating as he wasn’t being challenged enough.
“That’s when he mentioned that he liked tires so I used my connection at Kal Tire to set him up with a job there,” said Keith.
Lucas has been working at Abbotsford’s Kal Tire for the past 14 months. Lucas’ job duties include checking product manifests for shipping and receiving, staging inventory, general cleaning, and taking care of showroom merchandising.
“Lucas is always punctual, very polite and positive, and always looking for additional tasks,” said Doug Bried the general manager at Kal Tire.
Doug’s approachable demeanor played a pivotal role in creating an environment where Lucas could thrive. Lucas felt at ease asking any questions with Doug’s open-door policy.
“If I have a tire question or a big rig question, Doug could always help me out,” said Lucas.
Lucas’ family recently made the decision to move to Edmonton and Lucas inquired about relocating to the Edmonton branch of Kal Tire. With Doug’s help, Lucas landed the position in the Edmonton branch, helping make the move a seamless transition for Lucas.
“It’s reassuring knowing that we don’t have to worry about Lucas finding another job, he’s all set up for our big move,” said Lucas’s mother.
Doug is confident that Lucas will excel in Edmonton and is grateful to the EPIC program and staff for their support throughout Lucas’s employment at Kal Tire.
“The EPIC staff have always been very involved. There’s always lots of communication and they gave me everything I needed to support Lucas,” said Doug.
Another EPIC client who has excelled in the program is Todd.
Todd was laid off during the COVID-19 pandemic from his job at the Fraser Valley Animal Hospital. In 2022, Todd was referred to EPIC and Keith was able to get him his job back within a week of joining. Having a job for Todd is less about the money and more about the sense of purpose he gets.
“I like to work,” said Todd.
At work, Todd takes care of mopping, vacuuming, dusting, cleaning windows, and taking out the garbage and recycling. Through his job, Todd has learned transferrable life skills like how to follow instructions, ask for help, and “be a good listener.”
The Fraser Valley Animal Hospital has been a positive influence for Todd, as he excels in environments where he is given a routine. Being at the animal hospital for over a year has given him the stability and structure he needs to embrace his work with enthusiasm.
Todd’s mother, Colleen proudly states, “He really loves working and always wakes up a little bit earlier on days that he works. I don’t think he’s missed a single day over the last year.”
“I was looking for a job to get an income and independence, but also for a sense of community and connection,” said Andrea.
Andrea tried looking for a job on her own before she was introduced to EPIC, but it was difficult for her to sustain employment.
“Without EPIC, it was hard. When you have a disability and you try to apply for jobs on your own, you’re constantly told you’re not good enough,” said Andrea.
EPIC staff use the connections that they have with employers to match interested job seekers with inclusive employers who are willing to accommodate diverse abilities and help their employees be part of their team.
Andrea’s Employment Specialist, Simren Thind used to accompany Andrea on the job site when she was first hired. Simren has seen a boost in confidence from Andrea since they’ve known each other for the past year.
“Andrea has grown a lot. She was very timid when I first started working with her, but now I see that she is much more confident speaking to people and is a much more positive person,” said Simren.
Before she found this opportunity, Andrea couldn’t imagine a life filled with purpose and she began to question the direction of her life’s path.
“I’ve realized now that I used to be a negative person because I felt that I wasn’t going anywhere in life, I was broke, I didn’t have a job or any meaningful connections to people. I was very lonely. But now my life has changed significantly because of this job. Without help from EPIC, I would not have found this job on my own.”
The journeys of Lucas, Todd, and Andrea are just a few of the success stories showing the long-term impact of the EPIC program. EPIC staff are committed to helping their clients not only find jobs but also discover a sense of purpose, independence, and connection in their community.
EPIC’s influence extends beyond their clients: it spreads to employers like Kal Tire, the Fraser Valley Animal Hospital, the Abbotsford Entertainment Centre and others who have embraced inclusivity and reaped the rewards of a diverse and dedicated workforce.