Raking leaves

Community Inclusions client Chris Gallant was hard at work raking leaves in O’Leary through the organization’s Odd Jobs Program. The program was started to help increase employment opportunities for clients using Community Inclusions services. Thanks to new provincial funding aimed at helping seniors remain in their homes, the program has seen an increase in requests for their services in the last year. Submitted photo

Senior Hope MacInnis has been utilizing the services of Community Inclusions Odd Jobs Program for about five to six years.

She uses the service to help with gardening and house cleaning at her home in Woodstock.

“They are very professional and do a good job,” she said.

It’s thanks to seniors like Ms MacInnis that the Odd Jobs Program run by Community Inclusions has seen its busiest year in 2019.

The West Prince nonprofit organization that provides supports to adults aged 18-65 with intellectual disabilities began the Odd Jobs Program for their clients many years ago. The program was started as a way to increase employment opportunities for their clients with a goal of helping them learn new employment skills.

“It was us needing to support and train people,” said Employment Counselor Natalie Horne-Gallant. “We’ve been doing this a long time, but it’s just getting busier.”

Typically the busiest time of the year for the program is the spring when requests start coming in for people needing help with their yards or gardens.

“In the summer it would be casual and we would have a few flower beds that we would maintain, but we haven’t slowed down since November,” said Ms Horne-Gallant.

Assistant Employment Counselor Alicia Tremblay is responsible for job coaching with Community Inclusions. She supervises and works with the clients when they are out on assignments for the Odd Job Program.

“We do all house cleaning, from scrubbing floors to toilets to windows to walls to making beds,” said Ms Tremblay. “You name it we do it. Gardening. Raking leaves. Flower beds.”

Ms Tremblay said the increase in requests for their Odd Jobs Program is probably do to the province’s new Seniors Independence Initiative. According to the provincial website, the funding ‘provides financial assistance for practical services making it easier for seniors to remain in their own homes and communities’.

“Seniors are calling more,” said Ms Tremblay. “It’s becoming on a regular basis, like every two weeks.”

Doing such a great job, a lot of times Ms Tremblay and the clients would be booked for one job at a person’s home, but upon arrival the customer might request additional help with another task.

“Sometimes I’m not even back at the office and they’re calling me to book already for the following week or the next two weeks,” said Ms Tremblay.

Ms Tremblay said sometimes their Community Inclusions clients come to them with little to no skills and the Odd Jobs Program is one way the organization helps those they assist to build on their skill set. Many of the skills the clients learn through the program are also transferable and could help them obtain other employment down the road.

Ms Horne-Gallant said most of their clients love helping other people and enjoy having an opportunity to showcase the skills and abilities they are learning.

“To walk out knowing you helped somebody who can’t physically do it is rewarding for myself and my clients,” said Ms Tremblay.

Ms Tremblay said the customers who use their Odd Jobs service are thankful for the assistance.

“We see that because they call us back right away,” she said.

Ms MacInnis said she would highly recommend the Odd Jobs Program, calling the service a great help to the community.

“It has helped us to do the things we can’t do anymore,” she said.

She said the clients are easy to get along with and are very pleasant.

“They’re lovely,” she said. “They do their job efficiently.”

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