The Kootenay Career Development Society Work BC has awarded a local grocery store owner for providing employment opportunities for persons with disabilities.
Friday morning, Steve Ross, owner of Steve’s No Frills, received an Award of Excellence for Employing Persons with Disabilities from the Kootenay Career Development Society’s (KCDS) THRIVE program, which helps find jobs for those with disabilities or barriers to employment.
“Barriers to employment can mean anything from being out of the work force for a significant amount of time, mental health issues, addiction issues,” explained Jennifer Barclay, support and employment councillor, and workshop facilitator for KCDS Work BC. “So people experiencing disabilities or these barriers to employment, we support them in finding and maintaining meaningful employment.”
Ross recently hired Ryan Brocke, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) about 15 years ago and lost his job.
“Because he had seizures, which a very small percentage of individuals with MS have, he just had escalated symptoms,” said Barclay. “So he lost his job, he lost his independence, and was not able to be out there in the world interacting.”
Brocke had previously worked in the produce department at a grocery store in Kelowna and wanted to get back to working in produce where he could share his knowledge of vegetables. But Barclay was concerned that his physical limitations would make it hard for him to take on such a physical job.
“He was experiencing a lot of physical limitations at that time. [He] was walking with a cane when I first started to see him … and I was concerned,” said Barclay.
Ross made the accommodations that Brocke needed to work in the department, and since then the job has helped Brocke grow physically stronger. He no longer needs the cane.
Though Brocke is the first THRIVE client hired by Steve’s No Frills, he most likely won’t be the last. “We were moving toward placing a second client, but it just didn’t work out on that client’s end,” said Barclay, who praised Ross for being “so open-minded, so inclusive, so easy to work with.”
“[Ross is] a real gift to THRIVE and to our clients because he’s just open to doing whatever he can to make it work,” added Barclay.
KCDS Work BC offers a number of career services. Those who need help with their job search can visit kcds.ca.