Connections made with businesses and larger community
Lisa Bailey

PosAbilities Employment Service, born of changes in funding and meeting the needs of people who have a developmental disability, has evolved since opening its doors one year ago this week.

Manager Kalena Kavanaugh says “it seems like yesterday” the service was setting up at 718-12th St. in New Westminster, launching a partnership with the community to develop and promote a vibrant and diverse workforce.

Opening on Feb. 28, 2011, the service had a team of one employment specialist and a facilitator to help individuals prepare for, secure and maintain competitive employment, while reaching out to businesses and matching employers with candidates whose skills and interests meet their needs.

To date, the service has supported 11 individuals in finding work that they enjoy and pays minimum wage or higher.

Kalena attributes this success in part to the service’s person-centred approach, which includes a discovery process to determine what kind of work each individual would like to do and is capable of doing, and then supports them in gaining the skills or training needed to work in that position.

“We recognize each individual as unique and develop a relationship with that individual, which allows them to express what works and what doesn’t,” Kalena says.

“This makes finding that supportive employer so much easier. Each individual drives the process, and has their employment specialist along for the ride to provide support where needed.”

The service’s team has grown to include two more employment specialists as well as a community connector. It’s a unique part of the employment service, Kalena says, and the community connector has assisted individuals to independently access activities such as recreational classes and volunteer roles, or to connect with services such as banking which are important to daily living.

Building relationships in the community independently is empowering to individuals who have a disability and promotes the development of natural supports which foster inclusion.

In addition to the person-centred process followed by the service, Kalena credits the success of the inaugural year to posAbilities’ inspirational leadership and their belief in the service, as well as the dedicated team of staff behind it.

She says the service looks forward to expanding into the Vancouver region in 2012, which has been cited by posAbilities executive director Fernando Coelho as one of several exciting priorities for the organization this year.

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