“My favorite part is helping the customers,” Eric shares. “I enjoy sharing tips and product recommendations for gardening and insect control.”
At the Orleans Home Hardware (new window), just outside of Ottawa, Eric has found a home away from home. He loves his job, handling stock and assisting customers out on the sales floor. “We’re like family.”
Just recently, Eric celebrated his one year work anniversary.
When he was three years old, Eric was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome (new window). Looking for employment a little over a year ago, he had turned to the Neil Squire Society’s Working Together program for help.
After exploring some career ideas with the Working Together team, Eric set a personal goal to try his hand at working in the retail environment to allow him the opportunity to increase his communication skills, reduce his anxiety, and build his confidence.
With retail came the perfect fit: the Orleans Home Hardware.
The owner, Shawn McKinnon, has been a proud supporter of the Neil Squire Society and other organizations including Performance Plus Rehabilitative Care Inc. (new window) in Ottawa who are committed to enhancing employment opportunities and inclusive hiring for persons with disabilities.
Home Hardware is touted as being a community hardware store with a family atmosphere. Team members work together and play together, and events are hosted a couple of times each year for barbeques and social gatherings.
A year later, Eric has become an integral member of the team.
“When you find a diamond like Eric, it’s a huge payoff,” says Shawn. Initially, Shawn shares that Eric was very quiet and reserved when he first came to the store, but nevertheless polite, well groomed, friendly and possessing a good work ethic. However, after three months Shawn saw that Eric had “come out of his shell. He’s great with customers and a part of the team.”
The Working Together program, along with the wage subsidy, allowed Shawn to train Eric at his own pace and is a huge incentive for him giving someone a chance. While Eric did not require any specific accommodation, he is happy to have the support and understanding from Shawn.
Working has had a positive ripple effect in other areas of Eric’s life.
“I am more aware of my abilities,” he explains. “My desire to help at home with chores such as lawn maintenance and other outside work has been noted by my parents, because my confidence has increased.”
Eric has a bright future ahead of him. He’s happy working at the Orleans Home Hardware, and would be happy to continue.
Shawn shares the same sentiment. “Eric is a very valuable part of our team. We’re lucky to have him and hopefully he will be with us for many years to come!”