“Diversity is something that we strongly believe in, because we feel like it’s important for the shop to reflect the community that we do business in” says Richard. “We’ve always been active in the community, supporting initiatives, doing fundraisers and whatnot and kind of put it out there that we were interested in doing something greater.”
Through some networking, Kathy Matthews, CJ’s Community Placement Specialist, learned about the potential opportunity at John Street Tattoo.
“I heard that they were an inclusive employer and through some outreach and initial conversations with Richard and Jacklyn, I learned that they would be interested in hiring someone with a disability,” says Kathy. “I let them know that I had a candidate in mind and working together we put together a job description.”
CJ interviewed for the position and was subsequently hired. As of the end of this past year, he had been working at the shop for 9 months and recently celebrated his one-year anniversary.
“Working with Community Living Hamilton has been really wonderful,” says Jacklyn. “In the beginning Kathy was really hands on, meeting with us regularly to establish tasks and schedules, and has continued to serve as a liaison even now that CJ is so comfortable in the role.”
CJ is in the shop 3 days per week and his duties include sweeping and mopping, garbage disposal, disinfecting surfaces and runs errands for the tattoo artists. While he has now settled in, it was not always easy.
The job requires focus, attention to detail and good time-management, skills that CJ has always struggled with. Fortunately, with a few job accommodations, minor modifications and some coaching in the early stages, CJ was able to learn the job and meet the strict cleanliness and safety standards required for the shop to operate.
“For a job to evolve into long-term employment, like what we’ve seen with CJ, is a huge accomplishment,” adds Kathy.
A good fit between employee and employer is key, but just as important is developing and maintaining a flexible and collaborative partnership that is based on deep respect and mutual benefit.
“When I first started I was kind of intimidated, but now I just feel like part of the family,” says CJ. “I’m grateful for the confidence they’ve shown in me.”