Ventures Association

Building Lives for 25 Years
One Home, One Job, One Friend at a time

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The Way to Work Program

Today, I have worked at Smitty’s for over 6 years as a dishwasher and cleaner. Working at Petstuff on the Go helped me with my job at Smitty’s by getting me used to being around people and getting used to the routine of getting up at a certain time and going to work. I also had a job coach to help with my training. I love my job and they are good, friendly people to work for.

The key to my success is that I am a very thorough cleaner and I like to clean. The positive difference for me is how I have responsibility, get paid and I am around people. While working, I have also moved out of my family house and into my own apartment and I am much happier with the independence I now have.

Affirmative House Tenant

"Battling my illness, along with going through a separation, added a tremendous stressor to my life. How was I going to afford to live? Where was I going to live? How would I manage my illness? I was lucky, my health care team was able to put me in touch with the Affirmative House people. From there my life changed. I now had a home, which I could afford. My apartment is nice, the building is clean and secure. The fact that the building is nice, clean, secure, and is affordable, will meet every need you have, but that isn’t what makes it exceptional. It’s the people who live here, they are great support. They understand what it’s like to have a rough time, they’ve been there. For me, this has been a perfect environment for me to learn to manage my illness better, and to get back on feet and work towards re-entering the work force. From my heart, don’t think of this place as just bricks and mortar, the people here give this building a heart, a soul, and an ever evolving personality." -- Rob

Petstuff on the Go: "To say I enjoyed my time at Pet Stuff on the Go would be a huge understatement. My co-workers were great people, very dedicated to what they do. Working with the young adults in the “Way to Work Program” was a wonderful experience. Seeing them grow and become more confident was the most satisfying feeling. And honestly, the learning went both ways. This fits the description of a “feel good job”. Unfortunately Pet Stuff on the Go is one of the best kept secrets in HRM." -- Rob

Affirmative House Tenant

Hello I'm Daniel. I was diagnosed with schizophrenia at twenty. I live comfortably with the disorder. I have family, friends, doctors and nurses to thank for my success. Affirmative Ventures has also helped with support and affordable housing.

I work as a grounds keeper part-time at the Dartmouth General Hospital. Many have been supportive and I would also thank job coaches to help me get back on my feet. I work three days a week and know it can be challenging to maintain employment. I have been working part-time with job coaches for a couple years now.

Lastly I am just thanking all those who have helped and want to continue to work with my supports in the future.

Affirmative House Tenant

My third year in Affirmative House, Boy does time fly! My recovery has been long and stressful but I am slowly learning to live with my mental illness. I have been diagnosed with Schizoaffective Disorder and my many thanks goes out to the good folks at both Capital Health and Affirmative Ventures for being there for me when I needed it the most. I'm not sure where I would be, in life, without the support of Nancy, Liz and Lori. I still find it hard to talk about my disorder, mainly because I don’t know much about it yet, but whenever a situation arises, or if something seems odd, my support team is always there to make sure everything is going ok. It’s good to be able to talk with people who genuinely care about your well-being. It’s great to notice the progress.

Affirmative Ventures has helped me in so many ways. They took a chance on me when no-one else would. When they approved me for a unit in Affirmative House I felt relief as thousands of pounds of stress was lifted of my shoulders. It motivated me to get out there and pay my rent, put food in my stomach and think about my future. Prior to getting involved with Affirmative Ventures I was in a very dark place where a future did not exist. I was isolating myself and distancing those around me who wanted nothing more but to help. It's not something I was able to recognize back then but as I look back I can now see the value in all the work Affirmative Ventures does within its community. It takes special types of people to be able to deal with these issues on a daily basis.

The thing I like about living in Affirmative House is its sense of community. I've lived in many apartments here in Dartmouth and this is the first place that puts its tenants first. Monthly tenant meetings keep us all informed and give us all a chance to express ourselves knowing that we will be heard. During my first year, the big discussion was summer barbecues. During my second year, we voted on a basketball net. This year we are excited to get a treadmill. These are all small additions that make a big impact on the way we live here in the building.

The Way to Work Program

After I completed the work training program with Affirmative Industries, I accepted a position as a convenience store clerk at Mort's Convenience. I work 3 days a week for 3 hours per day (and more if my co-worker is sick or has time off). I am a pleasant and cheery worker with lots of energy!

The barriers that had to be eliminated for employment success are mental health, a learning disability, stigma, learning proper store etiquette, learning not to be afraid or let people see me afraid of them or nervous, and self-esteem.

I eliminated barriers by using peer support, support from my family, and also much support from my job coaches. I took a self-esteem course and gained confidence from my family, peers, and job coaches.

I learned that I'm not always going to get along with everyone but everyone deserves courtesy, and to trust myself that my job coaches are confident that I can do a job, so I should be too. I am proving that I have a lot to offer and am capable of more than people think just because I have disabilities.

The key to my success has been support from family, peers, job coaches, and Drs, confidence in myself, and personal strength.

The Way to Work Program

While I was training at Common Values and Petstuff on the Go, I learned cash, customer service, inventory, stock shelves & general cleaning. I learned to deal with people and work with the public. I had to learn to trust people and open up. I am a hard worker and have learned to think more positive. I learned to set new goals and work toward employment. I work hard and I got hired at Mort's. Mort's is a stepping stone for future employment. I continue to work with a job developer who is helping me find employment, learn what to say when I am in the interview. I have more confidence for the interview. I keep setting new goals.

The Way to Work Program

After living with mental illness my whole life, it was next to impossible to sustain any employment. Thanks to Affirmative Industries and my one year of training at Petstuff on the Go, I gained many new skills and self-confidence. This enabled me to work at my current job with Dartmouth Street Business Improvement District.

I currently work two days a week as a street cleaner and trash collector on the main street and surrounding areas. I love this job as I am helping the environment and main street beautification. I meet many new people, their pets and love the conversations that I have with them. I was assigned a job coach through Affirmative Industries to help me learn the ropes in my new job.

She did a great job and after two shifts I was on my own. I am now more alert and can find trash that no one else would likely notice. Before beginning this job I was nervous and trying to build my confidence and trying to learn that not everyone was against me. Now I have a job that I love and have had two excellent bosses. If it hadn't been for my excellent training at Petstuff on the Go, I do not know what I would be doing today. Through my experiences I have become a stronger person and after one year at my job I still love it. I have also learned that I can do anything if I put my mind to it, and anything in life is possible with a positive attitude. I am thinking about going to college and allow my confidence to grow even more.

The Way to Work Program

I work behind the counter at Mort's Convenience Store. I'm operating the cash register, cleaning and organizing the place, and serving customers whenever they need any help. In order for me to be gainfully employed I had to practice communicating in a different way. I was perhaps a bit too snappy or stood in the wrong field of subject matter. I kept comments to myself or spoke in a positive minded code if I still wanted to speak my mind about something.

When you start out in the training, you hate it and don't think what you're accomplishing on the job is gonna get you anywhere. However, the more often you do the job and receive promotions, the greater you like it and once you're obtaining a real position with good wages, you know you've got it made. The key to my success is knowing when it's appropriate to crack a good joke. Humour can actually be a great thing to use in the workplace and attract plenty of customers, as long as you keep it clean and simple. What really made a positive difference for me is that the store had a perfect work environment with a lot of interesting customers I could serve and talk to. It's fantastic to be working at a place where you're not repeating too much of the same routine and you know every day is going to turn out different.

The Way to Work Program

As young person with disabilities I came to Affirmative Industries looking for support and development of skills that would lead me to successful employment. The first 12 weeks were spent in workshops, learning about my skills, determining goals and discovering how positive attitude could lead me to a job. During this time I also worked at two Affirmative Industries stores; Pet stuff on the go and the neighborhood dollar plus store.

There were always teaching supervisors on the job site. Each task within the store was individualized with a coaching demonstration. As my confidence grew with the tasks, I was given more independence and more complex tasks were added. Coaches were open to questions and assisted me to problem solve as challenges arose on my daily shifts. I think the key to my success has been the improvement of my communication skills. As person with hearing and memory deficits I learned key tools of eye-to-eye contact, positioning myself in front of customers to aid in two-way conversations; and being aware of my body language to give positive feedback.

Learning new tasks is important but it is a positive attitude that makes for a positive experience. After the workshops and training I moved to the job development phase. Job develops and coaches reviewed my resume; honed interview skills with mock interviews and continued to reinforce the positive attitudes. I have to offer an employer. Since May 2012 I have been employed as product warehouse demonstrator for a large retail company. The job involves training and awareness of food safety, worksite safety, Health Canada regulations, food handling, and customer service.

I work independently to setup and tear down equipment; display products; engage customers to sample and purchase products; keep records of products sampled and sold; cleaning and maintenance of equipment; employee responsibilities for scheduling and punctuality; maintaining uniforms; problem solving, and most important, working as part of a team. I receive ongoing support from my job coach. The job coach prepared me for the interview and is my cheerleader. She is available via phone, email and in person. We review my progress with the employer on a regular basis and problem solve as needed. She is there to make both my experience and the employer's a success.

"Helping people work makes a difference ", is the motto of Affirmative Industries. It has made a difference each day; increasing my confidence, skills and independence. I now know that I can contribute to my future and the community I live in.

© Affirmative Ventures Assoc. 2019
Development by Yarnell & Aaron