Frances Collison busing tables at Gin's on Canyon.

New skills learned through Kootenay Employment Services customized work program

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I am 19 years old. I am an employee at Gin’s on Canyon. Though I have Down syndrome, I was able to find employment through Kootenay Employment Services with its job coach program. When the boss of Gin’s on Canyon, Virginia Bergman, met me during our short interview, she hired me straight away.

Working at Gin’s means I have to be on my feet a lot, while working at a fast pace. I love working at Gin’s. People there are very kind and respectful towards me. The hardest part is lifting heavy trays of plates and cups. I am working at it, though. I have improved a lot from when I started in April. I work at least three hours a day. I start my shift at 11 a.m. and finish at 2 p.m.

I had two different job coaches. One was my best friend Bree Olsen and my new one is Emily Caldwell. They have helped me at work. KES has a program for people with disabilities to have a job coach and wage subsidy while they are learning the new skills of the job.

Working at Gin’s has taught me many new skills, like washing windows, clearing and cleaning tables, doing the bathrooms, polishing cutlery and even taking the drink orders. Soon I will be working all by myself. My hard work will pay off by being able to buy things I want, like a convertible! My work at Gin’s has brought me tips and being noticed for my hard work.

I hope to learn new skills like working with money and being a full waitress, but for now I am very happy and enjoy my days at Gin’s. I thank Gin and KES for this opportunity to work in my community. Being employed, to me, means gaining skills for future jobs and this makes my life more successful. Hard work always pays off in the end!

—BY FRANCES COLLISON

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