Edmund Power walked up to the podium holding a sheet of paper, followed close behind by his father, Jim. Once there, he took a few moments to get himself prepared and then began to deliver his short but well-received speech.
“Hi, my name is Edmund Power,” he said. “I am a personal warehouse demonstrator at Costco.”
He went on to thank staff from the Partners for Workplace Inclusion Program (PWIP), who helped him get into the workforce, and then gave a shout-out to his boss at Costco.
“She’s a fantastic boss,” he said with a grin, concluding his speech before an audience of almost 100 guests in attendance for PWIP’s seventh annual Business Awards Luncheon at the Capital Hotel on Wednesday.
PWIP, which operates under the Canadian Council on Rehabilitation and Work (CCRW), helps people with disabilities who are looking for work find jobs.
Jim Power spoke after his son’s quick trip to the podium to offer evidence of how the program helped his son.
“When I look back to a little boy in school who’d hide underneath a desk, and then look and see him today walk out with his lunch proudly going to work, that’s something.”
After first meeting with PWIP staff, Edmund Power was enrolled into Youth the Future, a CCRW project focused on the development of pre-employment skills. It is offered in Newfoundland and Labrador through Keyin College.
Edmund learned how to write a resumé and handle a job interview, but his father said the most important thing Edmund Power gained from the experience was self-confidence.
“Really, I have never seen anybody that gave him so much confidence, and that made all the difference.”
The Goulds native sent resumés out to dozens of businesses and managed to get several interviews. Before each one, Jim Power said his son sat down with PWIP employment outreach specialist Michelle Clarke to go over what might happen in the interview.
Since finding his job at Costco, Edmund Power has had nothing but good things to say about his work experience, according to his father.
“When I look back to a little boy in school who’d hide underneath a desk, and then look and see him today walk out with his lunch proudly going to work, that’s something.” - Jim Power
“I really have the impression that this is a family. He knows everyone on a first name basis,” Power said.
Employment co-ordinator Lori LeDrew said the awards luncheon lets the group honour businesses and organizations who have supported PWIP by helping its clients find meaningful employment.
It handles people from a variety of backgrounds, including those with learning disabilities, mental heath issues, physical disabilities and sensory disabilities, and it serves the St. John’s metro area.
“Our employers have been very supportive and accommodating for our clients,” LeDrew said. “Education for employers is a very important piece of that.”
This year, the program received a three-year funding commitment from the federal government after operating on a year to year basis since its founding in 2003.