When Minh was let go from his job of four years, it had a huge effect on his self-esteem.
“My confidence was shot, and it affected my epilepsy, too,” said Minh. “It was hard for me to focus and I had trouble sleeping. And then when I was trying to find a new job, I knew something was wrong when employers were not contacting me for interviews.”
Minh was referred to Reaching E-Quality Employment Services (REES), a United Way Winnipeg donor- supported agency that connects people living with physical disabilities and health conditions to prospective employers. The ultimate goal of the organization is to help its participants achieve self-sustainability and dignity. And it did just that for Minh.
“I was anxious and depressed, and I didn’t feel good about myself at all. But then my life started to change for the better,” said Minh. “I no longer looked at my disability as a weakness and excuse. I let go of my pride, asked for help, and took advantage of all the resources that were made available to me.”
REES Executive Director, Lisa Dabrowski
REES helped Minh create a skills-based résumé and also worked with him on developing his interview and confidence skills. He participated in interview workshops and REES’s Employer Forum, where he connected with eCom Customer Care, a customer service contact centre.
Following a successful interview, Minh was accepted into the REES Hiring Incentive Program (RHIP) and REES Internship Project (RINT). These initiatives helped cover the cost of transitioning Minh into full-time employment at eCom Customer Care.
“Thanks to REES, I found work in less than a month,” he said. “They believed in me and were, and still are, willing to help me.”
His new employer, eCom, made the necessary accommodations for Minh’s epilepsy. Since focus was an issue, they made sure that Minh was not too distracted by background noise, such as sitting next to a doorway. They also accommodated his schedule requests, ensuring that he started work at the same time and day each week.
Lisa Dabrowski, REES’s Executive Director, believes more employers need to consider accommodation.
“If you can find a good employee, you should be open to working with them and being open to accommodation,” she said. “It’s about the ability, not the disability.”
Minh is now working as an Inbound Customer Service Representative. Many of the calls he receives are from customers and patients with questions about how to order their medication, and with his epilepsy, which requires him to take medication, Minh feels he can relate to their situation and see from their point of view.
Minh has regained his confidence and wants to use his experience to make a difference by helping others.
“If you’re just helping yourself, you’re not going to get far,” he said. “That’s my mantra.”