Joshua is pictured working in the Boston Pizza kitchen with his boss Sony Grewal. Joshua is a client of Penticton and District Society of Community Living. (Mark Brett)

Joshua is pictured working in the Boston Pizza kitchen with his boss Sony Grewal. Joshua is a client of Penticton and District Society of Community Living. (Mark Brett)

Diverse ability workforce shines in Penticton

Penticton and District Society for Community Living (PDSCL) helps those with disabilities find jobs

By Mark Brett, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

At a time when businesses are closing due to staffing shortages there’s a workforce out there that is ready, willing and able to do the job.

Through the efforts of the Penticton and District Society for Community Living (PDSCL) people with disabilities or better put, diverse abilities are finding real jobs.

PDSCL client Joshua is a perfect example of what a great two-way street it can be for both employees and employer.

For two days a week since April the 21 year old has been working at Penticton’s Boston Pizza, a job he loves.

“I like how everyone has a job and everyone works together and gets along with each other,” said Joshua, who has Autism Spectrum Disorder. “My favourite part about the job is learning new things, and that’s what I like about it most.

“It’s really important for me to have this job, everyone deserves and has a right to have a job and it’s nice to have a real job and real pay.”

Josh, who helps with portioning dishes in the kitchen, is actually one of three PDSCL clients who work at Boston Pizza whose owners are one of the largest employers in the city of people with diverse abilities.

Someone who couldn’t be happier with Josh’s hire is restaurant manager Sony Grewal.

Josh always comes to work with an upbeat attitude,” she said. “He takes on any task given to him with a smile and puts 100 per cent into everything he does. He is an inspiration to his teammates and has been an excellent addition to our Boston Pizza family. It is our hope that we can bring awareness to this program so that other local businesses will consider participating.”

Grewal added, “The PDSCL organizational vision aligns with what we value. Our management, staff and the George family (owners) love the community of Penticton.

“By assisting the clients and staff of PDSCL we provide meaningful employment with the intent of each client gaining valuable skills for the future. The partnership is fruitful for all involved and we hope to keep it running for years to come.”

Cyndi Bartram is the PDSCL Vocational Counsellor who works as an intermediary between employers and clients.

“Employers can increase the recruitment and retention of persons with diverse abilities through awareness, education and training, accommodations, natural workplace supports and a disability management plan,” said Bartram. “And these people are just so ecstatic to have a job, they’re highly dependable and they love their jobs, they talk about their jobs all the time.”

Working in customized employment, she individualizes employment relationships between clients and employers in ways that meet the needs of both.

“It’s all based on person-centre of approach which means in this case, Josh’s strengths, his interests and his needs,”she said.

According to the counsellor in almost every case the relationship is a win, win situation for all involved.

“People with diverse abilities are equivalent to other employees in performance, attendance and workplace safety,” said Bartram. “Simply, they want to work and you can depend on them.”

For information about the program Bartram can be reached at, cyndibartram↕pdscl.onmicrosoft.com

READ MORE: New Ironman mural to be unveiled in Penticton

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