Community Living Belleville and Area dedicated part of its Annual General Meeting on Thursday, June 22nd, to officially acknowledge an Ontario Trillium Foundation grant in the amount of $234,200. They received the grant in late 2015 and it has enabled the organization to develop a project called Transitioning People to Competitive Employment.
The grant has had a significant impact on the lives of many young adults who have an intellectual disability working toward competitive employment.
Sharon Wright, Community Living Belleville and Area’s Manager of Community Development and Volunteer Services, sees the funding as “an incredible opportunity to really assist people with intellectual disabilities to be better prepared to access employment services in our community.”
While Community Living Belleville and Area did publicly acknowledge the grant when it was first received, Wright said this year’s AGM was a great opportunity to share and celebrate successful employment stories.
“I am so pleased to see this grant going to such a worthy organization,” said Todd Smith, MPP for Hastings-Prince Edward. He and Deanna Dulmage, a volunteer on the Ontario Trillium Foundation’s Grant Review Team, were on hand to present the agency with a commemorative plaque.
One of the main goals of the Transitioning People to Competitive Employment service, according to Wright, is to have an increased number of people ready to access employment service agencies which can assist them in finding competitive employment.
The project consists of three phases for the young adults. Phase one involves in-class instruction, career exploration and enhanced job readiness training including, but not limited to, team-building, workplace health and safety, preparing for interviews and working with a mentor.
While an employment service agency may also teach these skills, “Community Living Belleville and Area focuses on a more person-centred approach,” Wright said.
The next phase focuses on young adults gaining practical, on-site work experience by partnering with local businesses over a four-week period, similar to a co-op placement experience. Working with a job coach, knowledge around workplace practices and job expectations can lead to a career.
The final phase directly helps young adults who have an intellectual disability find competitive employment. Donini Chocolate, a Belleville manufacturer, found success with the Transitioning to Competitive Employment project.
Wright said, “the employer was so impressed with the service and the skills of the candidate that they hired him and he is now a permanent part-time employee. And, Donini Chocolate has since hired a second person through the project.”
Moving forward, Wright says that Community Living Belleville and Area plans to develop a focus group of potential business partners to assist in driving this service forward and increasing employment opportunities for young adults who have an intellectual disability.
Daniel Share-Strom, Community Living Ontario