A Job Well Done

Local organization helps make connections in the community…

With 40 prospective employees currently enrolled in the Community Employment Service, there’s a huge variety of creative opportunities available to employers. Since many of these job seekers only want to work a couple of hours a day, job carving can also involve hiring an employee for peak business hours to assist with duties that otherwise get neglected in the rush.

Such is the case with Kerri Denniger, a café assistant at Starbucks who was hired a year and a half ago to help keep the store clean and tidy during peak afternoon hours twice a week. For Denniger, who’d just graduated from high school and wanted more than anything to have a “real job with real pay,” her job at Starbucks was a tremendous confidence booster. The income she earns allows her to go on trips like a recent vacation to Disneyland and, just last month, a trip to Abbotsford to compete in the Special Olympics provincial swimming championships. (Denniger returned with a gold medal for the backstroke, plus two silvers and a bronze.)

To Starbucks’ benefit, Denniger has become one of the store’s most valuable and dependable employees. In fact, the store manager has already given her two raises and is practically begging her to take on more hours.

Gibson is quick to acknowledge other local businesses that have realized the benefits of working with the Supported Employment Service, including Safeway, Coastal Community Credit Union and the Home Depot. The Home Depot, for example, currently has two VICC-supported employees working at its Comox Valley store, one of which has been promoted to the point that he is now responsible for part of the training of new hires.

Gibson and her colleagues are currently organizing a promotional campaign to spotlight employers working with the program, the details of which they expect to announce later this summer. In addition, Gibson has made it her own personal mission to reform what she views as a bias against people with disabilities that’s ingrained into the language of our society.

When you say ‘disabilities’ with some employers you can see them shut down as you’re talking. But if you just switch that wording to ‘diverse abilities,’ usually you get a confused look but at least they’re not shutting down.”

Hopefully we can all work toward a society without labels, as well as increased opportunities for British Columbians of all diverse abilities. Vancouver Island Community Connections has dozens of valuable employees looking for work, and dozens of innovative opportunities for progressive employers to increase their productivity.

Common Myths about Hiring Employees with Disabilities

Myth: Hiring an employee with disabilities will inevitably lead to a WorkSafe BC claim.

Fact: There is no statistical evidence that people with disabilities have a higher rate of workplace accidents. Most employees with disabilities have had the importance of safety ingrained in them since childhood, and studies have shown they are generally more safety conscious than most employees.

Myth: If I hire an employee with a disability through VICC, I won’t be able to fire them if it doesn’t work out.

Fact: Supported Work Program employees have the same rights and responsibilities as all other employees. They’re entitled to the employer’s standard probationary period, and if things don’t work out they can be terminated like any other employee.

Myth: Employees with disabilities have a higher rate of absenteeism.

Fact: Studies continually show that, on average, employees with disabilities have better attendance than most employees. Often they are just happy to have the job and remain dedicated.

Myth: Employees with disabilities are unable to meet performance standards.

Fact: A study of 2,745 workers found that 92% of employees with disabilities scored average or better in job performance, compared to 90% of employees without.

FMI call 250-338-7201.
Or, go online to