(Above: Rebecca and her Peer Employment Mentor, Lourdes Rojas)
Rebecca struggles with anxiety but she wasn’t going to let it hold her back and prevent her from finding a job. Instead, she joined Causeway’s Peer Employment Mentorship program to get the additional support she needed to find fulfilling work while accessing the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP).
Mentor Lourdes Rojas understands what job seekers with barriers are going through, because she has been there herself. Ms. Rojas is on ODSP because of her limited eyesight, but she is still a very active woman. Ms. Rojas helps clients with physical impairments or mental health issues find their vocational fit and suggest ways to help them to maintain paid employment once they have successfully found a job.
Over the past several months, Ms. Rojas has supported Rebecca in her search to find the service providers and employment programs that suits her needs as well as has helping her choose a position that fit her experience and interests. Ms. Rojas has helped Rebecca through the highs and lows of looking for a job, including the disappointment of unsuccessful applications and a work placement in fashion retail that just wasn’t the right fit for her.
Rebecca’s determination has paid off. In 2014, in order to gain more experience in the field, she found a volunteer placement with Capital Daycare Centre. After a few weeks on the job, she approached her employer for feedback and was offered paid supply work. Then, last August, Rebecca landed a paid position with the YMCA’s Playcare program and has been working there ever since. Rebecca says her job gives a sense of structure, purpose and accomplishment, all things that help lessen her anxiety and promote overall mental health. The extra money is also great, since she loves to travel. She is now saving for an upcoming trip to PEI.
Ms. Rojas is very proud of how far Rebecca has come: “She is an example of someone who finally excelled because she was persistent and worked through her barriers.” Ms. Rojas says that she may have helped, but Rebecca did all the work.