SOAICL empowers special needs workers to enter the job force

SOAICL empowers special needs workers to enter the job force

Jack Mullin started working at Canadian Tire only a month after the store opened in 2012. (Lyonel Doherty photo)


Oliver Chronicle

The South Okanagan Association for Integrated Community Living in Oliver works to enhance, empower and support every person with special needs to achieve his or her potential and to access and enjoy the same opportunities, rights, responsibilities and quality of life as an equal member of the community.

In order to achieve this goal, SOAICL, as it is known, promotes, organizes and supports the education, training, development and welfare of special needs adults, and bears in mind the strengths and needs of the individual as well as the principles of normalization and integration.

Among the many services provided to support this goal, SOAICL assists and supports clients with finding employment. Here are the stories of two of clients.

Jack Mullin: Within a month of opening in 2012, Canadian Tire (Oliver) was eager to have Mullin on their team. He first started out tending the flowers in the garden department. This was a good learning experience for him as his claim to fame at this point was being a “power house” capable of feats of strength. Now he had to gently finesse his way with delicate flowers.

“Now I can truly say he is a 21st century man right up there with Trudeau (and he’s single, ladies),” said job developer Mike Bell.  “He is always happy to provide customer service and is enthusiastic to accomplish his assigned tasks during the day.

A big thanks to Canadian Tire for investing in Mullin’s enrichment.

Meghan Burnett has worked at Amore Pizza in Oliver for over a year. (Photo contributed)

Meghan Burnett: After already employing a SOAICL client at his Osoyoos Pizza Factory, Payman (Burnett’s boss) was savvy to take her on when she applied at the Amore Pizza Factory in Oliver. She has been working there for more than a year now.

Her main duties to start were washing dishes and general clean-up. Since then she has moved up to more culinary tasks like making pizza dough. There isn’t a day goes by where Burnett doesn’t appreciate working for Payman. The job already adds to her busy lifestyle trying to fit in Special Olympics and college in the fall and winter. She still finds time for her boyfriend, Stephen Lee, another SOAICL client, who has been employed by No Frills for many years (to back in the day when it was Super-Valu. Good thing they are working as they like to spend money on each other.

Employment is important for everyone. Mullin and Burnett complete necessary, valuable work and take pride in their jobs. The business case for hiring people with disabilities is strong. There are real cost savings through reduced staff turnover and lower recruitment and retraining costs. What’s more, because people with disabilities have fewer compensation incidents and accidents at work, compared to other employees, insurance and workers’ compensation costs are often lower. As an added incentive, there are wage subsidies available to employers for hiring people with diverse abilities to assist with the costs of training a new staff member.

Mullin has created strong connections to clients, a bonus for Canadian Tire here in Oliver, and  Burnett has proved her worth to her employer and advanced in her duties.

SOAICL has been serving the needs of Oliver residents for many years. Although the most recent name was adopted in 1995, the society has provided services as needed since 1960.

Bell is the job developer at SOAICL, and along with helping clients find employment, he runs the job team. He keeps his crew busy with odd jobs, lawn work, delivering phone books, and helping folks move.

If you wish to contact Bell to find out about putting his crew to work, he can be reached at 250-498-7368.


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