Ally Klassen
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Mission Possible; Empowerment Through Opportunity. Our goal of empowering those living with significant barriers (such as poverty, addiction, and disability to name a few) to find sustainable livelihoods is a lofty one. And although providing transitional employment is a major step in the right direction, Mission Possible does more than just provide a job. In fact, a lot has to go on behind-the-scenes and between-the-shifts to help associates access empowerment. Cue coaching!

While participating in our Employment Readiness Program, associates are assigned a certified coach who they meet with every other week, in addition to working their assigned shifts. In the era of COVID-19, coaching is also available virtually or by phone to follow physical distancing guidelines. Coaching is crucial and mandatory to the MP process. So what is coaching? MP coach, Nic, puts it best:

“Coaching is a conversation that provides clarity or action steps. It is really a conversation that is guided through questions. The coach’s role is to provide insightful questions that allow the individual receiving the coaching to receive more clarity, to think of other possibilities, and to move forward rather than stay where they’re at.”

Simply put, coaching is a tool used that helps associates think of the long-term and think of what steps they need to take to truly thrive. As is the nature of poverty and marginalization, for many associates this is the first time they’ve been afforded the opportunity to simply sit and think for half an hour about what they want to do with their life. Many associates recognize this as a refreshing time to escape the constant buzz of “survival mode”, swapping it for a moment of clarity and a chance to maintain momentum in their journeys forward.

When associates are facing hard times, and due to COVID-19 almost every associate would identify now as a challenging period in their lives, coaches can also connect associates to valuable community resources. As well, coaches are trained in mental health first aid and can provide support in these regards. Now more than ever, coaches can be a listening ear and point of connection for associates who are otherwise isolated from their communities.

However, the main role for coaches at Mission Possible to hold associates accountable of creating and reaching meaningful goals during their six months at Mission Possible. Coaches are not there to teach, counsel, or train associates. Instead, coaches draw on associate’s inner strengths and guides them to their own answers. At Mission Possible we recognize that associates are the experts in their own lives; they already have the answers they need, coaches are just there to assist with uncovering them.

The benefits of coaching are immense- beyond “just” completing six months of employment with Mission Possible (a commendable feat in itself), many associates credit the coaching process with improving their personal and professional lives immensely. Graduated associate, Heather, shared her experience with coaching:

“The coaching helps a lot. It helped me understand my own character, the goals I would like to set for myself, and how to communicate better. I felt like someone really cared. I have been able to accomplish more of my goals than I have ever been able to because the coaches hold you accountable and support you throughout.”

With the added element of coaching to the Employment Readiness Program, Mission Possible creates opportunities for associates to work on issues in all elements of their lives. This is important because these seemingly unrelated problems can seep into their work-life and jeopardize one’s ability to maintain employment. For example, coaching has helped associates find better housing options. Better housing can mean better physical and mental health- aspects of wellbeing that are essential to being able to fully show up for work consistently.

Because we value coaching so immensely, it is also a resource that is made available to associates after they graduate from the Employment Readiness Program. This can help graduated associates seek and maintain permanent employment, adjust to a new work environment, and get support in personal issues as they arise.

We hope you enjoyed this peek into the Mission Possible process, where coaching plays a vital role in working towards our mission of providing a path towards sustainable livelihoods.

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* Please note that the photo in heading was taken pre COVID-19