It was like any other morning. Kwame was driving to work, with the radio tuned in to CBC’s Morning Show. Normally just background noise, one of the interviews piqued his interest. The man was talking about helping people with mental illness and other challenges find employment.
“It was someone from Causeway, and when I heard them talking, I thought they were describing my son,” Kwame explained. He felt at that moment that his son, Kwaku, who had been trying to find employment for years, could finally have that chance to work.
Kwaku first came to Causeway in the spring of 2019 after Kwame had inquired about getting started in the Employment Supports Program. Kwaku is on the autism spectrum and has some developmental disabilities that made it difficult for him to find permanent work. He volunteered and participated in training and skills development programs and spent much of his free time helping out with housework. Still, Kwaku yearned to have a place to work every day, like the rest of his family. He would frequently ask his father, “When can I go to work?”
“I just wanted his dreams to come true. I knew that Causeway would be the place where he would finally find something. We just needed someone to take a chance on him.”
After meeting with Peter Millar, his Employment Support Specialist, everything started to look up. Although Kwaku was unsure what direction he wanted to go, he was upbeat and eager to get to work. Peter suggested focusing on jobs in hospitality, primarily working in kitchens. After a few months of promising leads, Kwaku finally caught a break at the Rideau Carleton Casino.
At the end of October, Kwaku worked his first 3-hour shift as a dishwasher. By December, he started working 8 hours a day almost every day. He loved his job. His dreams finally came true.
After the holiday season, he settled into a schedule of working part-time. In March, the Rideau Carleton Casino closed down because of Covid-19 restrictions, and Kwaku hasn’t been able to work. They have yet to re-open because their management team is working to ensure the highest health and safety standards for their staff and guests. Although Kwaku was initially disappointed in the layoffs, he took comfort in knowing that the rest of his family was also at home. He now ardently awaits the re-opening of the casino so he can go back to work.
What does “Work. Regardless.” mean? To Kwame, it means everyone gets the chance to work without discrimination. It means that everyone deserves an opportunity to realize their dreams, just like his son, Kwaku.