Cody is a happy, enthusiastic 15-year-old. He likes people and wanted to have a “real job” so he could earn some money. Independence and appropriate social interactions can be challenging for people with autism (opens in a new window). One of his goals was to learn how to start and finish a task without distractions getting in the way. Cody works hard to understand the world around him. His intellectual disability means his processing may be a bit delayed, but his will to do his best is always on point.
Through the Neil Squire Society’s Working Together program, Cody was connected to Maple Roch (opens in a new window). Maple Roch operates as a social enterprise and is one of two licensed facilities in British Columbia to procure and sell maple syrup. Mirjana, an Office Coordinator at Maple Roch, had been a Neil Squire Society client and introduced her team to the Working Together program.
The hiring process was a “breeze”, according to Maple Roch owner Roch Fortin. “We believe in workplace diversity and hope to help provide more students with an opportunity to blossom.”
Cody plays an important role in the day-to-day running of the business. He greets customers, stocks products on shelves, prepares and serves energy drinks made with maple syrup, and helps keep the shop clean. He also creates posters and signage for use at the farmer’s market.
“Cody is an excellent worker. His enthusiasm is amazing! He loves to come here every single day,” says Mirjana. Since this was his first job, Mirjana notes how Cody has grown more comfortable and relaxed with his work and the team. His support worker accompanies him as he gets used to the daily routine.
“[The Working Together program] could change an entire generation of those that are vulnerable, and an entire mindset of employers and employees,” says Mirjana. “The accommodation is minimal, because of the support received through the program. I would definitely recommend it.”
Cody returned to school in September and has been offered employment at Maple Roch for next summer as well. He plans to finish school in four years and then work in his community. Cody says, in his own way, “It makes me feel good to have my own money to save and spend, just like everyone else.”