By Alyse Kotyk
Seated on her favourite bench outside of her building, Carol often saw Mission Possible Maintenance associates working hard. She knew she had untapped potential herself, but she was unsure of what steps to take to gain momentum.
Carol was used to being “the last one picked.” She grew up in the foster care system and has since lived on the Downtown Eastside. Challenged with multiple mental health diagnoses she was told she wouldn’t be able to raise her two young children, and at 38 years old she had never had a job. With the image of those associates’ uniforms in mind, Carol walked through Mission Possible’s doors.
Recently, we had the privilege of celebrating her completion of a 6 month work contract with MP Maintenance. Her energy and determined spirit solidify our belief that, more often than not, people struggling with homelessness and poverty are simply looking for an opportunity for transformation.
“I knew I was better than evaporated air,” she says, and it was this belief in herself that brought her to Mission Possible.
Carol’s first step, like all individuals who approach us looking for work, was to participate in an orientation. This one on one meeting gave her the opportunity to learn more about Mission Possible’s work program and to complete a Momentum Inventory, a questionnaire which helps prospective participants assess where they are at currently. It is in this phase that individuals consider if a journey towards employment with Mission Possible is something they want to commit to. Carol decided she was ready to take this step and immediately registered for our three day workshop series.
“The workshops were enlightening,” she says. “Before coming to Mission Possible I didn’t know what a soft skill or a hard skill was.”
These workshops are the platform that all of our program participants start on, teaching concepts such as professionalism, teamwork, self-care, and how to apply for a job. For Carol, it was an exciting learning opportunity and a chance to step out of her comfort zone by interacting with strangers within a safe environment.
Following the workshops, participants are encouraged to spend time volunteering with Mission Possible. Carol jumped right into helping with a community lunch at our Powell Street location and even though she felt shy, she courageously pitched in and offered assistance in a variety of roles. Through this experience, she gained confidence and a sense of value, knowing that her help was important.
Our goal at Mission Possible is to see people journey towards a sustainable livelihood and we believe that meaningful work opportunities are the path that takes them there. As a result, we aim to help individuals in our program find employment, sometimes within Mission Possible itself.
The Best Day of Her Life
For Carol, the maintenance team was a good fit and so she signed a 6 month contract where she worked an average of 17 hours per week, completing a variety of tasks such as graffiti removal, pressure washing and litter pickups. She worked hard, felt a sense of belonging and she was incredibly proud of receiving her first paycheque ever, describing it as “the best day in [her] life.”
Carol earned it. She was the one who put in the effort, the energy and the sweat. With an opportunity, she came to understand her own value and her own potential.
“I learned that I can be anything I want to be and I’m proud of that,” she says. “I want to make it possible for other people like me to believe in themselves.”