Showering, applying underarm deodorant and putting together a matching outfit are all part of the morning ritual of preparation.
For the majority of the working class, it’s a series of thoughtless tasks most of us take for granted. But for employees with developmental disabilities, or seeking employment, preparing for each shift or job interview involves a lot of basics.
“Items such as wearing clean and style appropriate clothing, or making eye contact are things some of our clients wouldn’t otherwise know, it’s just something they don’t see as important,” said manager Jeanine Reemst of the employment services program at the Garth Homer Society.
Reemst and her staff have seen enough examples of this during their time placing clients in the workforce that they came up with Working Wardrobe, a four hour workshop on Wednesday, Nov. 19, at 10 a.m. in the Garth Homer auditorium.
The event welcomes anyone from the public who might benefit from it though it was designed for people with developmental disabilities.
“It’s a room full of tables and each one is an interactive workshop that offers some skill, or advice, or clothing, everything has something for the client to take home,” she said.
It’s the first event of its kind of Reemst’s knowledge. She hopes it leads to another in the spring.
One table, for example, will focus on hand shakes and eye contact, she said.
“A lot of people with autism don’t like to stare, so making eye contact is something we often teach during the employment services program because it’s so important in the workplace. By avoiding it, it makes someone appear unexcited and uninterested, when that’s totally not the case, and that’s another example of a hidden disability.”
Employee services caseworker Kevin Hargrove is a lead on the project and said the support is growing. Baja Rosi’s Consignment Cabana in Langford donated $3,000 worth of work-appropriate clothing. There’s a station for work safe attire. Thrifty Foods is running a booth on planning and picking healthy snacks. Surprisingly, some stores have yet to see the value in it, though others are expected to create a table by Wednesday.
“Among the instructional sessions is a hair stylist doing hair and makeup for women,” Hargrove said. “The stylist will do quick fixes and simple things for women, and it will be noted so they have an easy option or two at home. There’s also a man cave with clothes and a ‘man-icuring’ station.”
Funded by Community Living B.C., the employment services program at Garth Homer is not the only one of its type. Clients of similar programs in town such as Integra Support Services and Phoenix Human Services have also been invited.
Working Wardrobe runs from 10 a.m. 2 p.m. on Nov. 19 at 813 Darwin Ave.