A self-described people person, Lisa is one of the first individuals visitors meet when they enter the Assiniboine Credit Union branch at 200 Main St.
Lisa, who is supported by Epic Opportunities, has been working as an office assistant at the branch since this past February. In addition to assisting the marketing department with filing, delivering mail to fellow employees and filling supply orders, she spends at least one day a week making coffee and greeting clients in the branch’s reception area.
Her ability to connect with people was one of the reasons why Lisa was asked to participate in the inaugural Take Your MLA to Work Day, held Fri., Oct. 30 in Winnipeg and various other locations around the province.
The day was organized by the Manitoba Supported Employment Network (MSEN) as part of Disability Employment Awareness Month in Manitoba. The aim of the campaign was to celebrate the contributions Manitobans with disabilities make in the workplace, encourage more employers to hire people with disabilities and engage local politicians in a positive way.
As part of her work day, Lisa took Logan MLA and Minister of Multiculturalism and Literacy Flor Marcelino on a tour of ACU’s head office and its 200 Main St. branch. She also introduced Marcelino to her co-workers and walked her through what a typical work day at ACU is like for her.
“I was a little nervous at first,” says Lisa, adding she quickly overcame her initial nervousness.
Lisa says Marcelino seemed genuinely interested in the work she does at ACU and told her how valued her contributions are.
“I felt pretty good [about that],” she says, adding she hopes her guest learned something about what people with intellectual disabilities are capable of in the workplace.
Lisa also had an opportunity to share with her guest the sense of humor that has made her so popular with fellow employees. At one point she traded her work clothes for those of Belle from the Disney movie Beauty and the Beast as part of this year’s Halloween activities at the branch. When asked where her ‘beast’ was she replied: “I don’t need one,” she recalls, laughing.
Marcelino says her experience as part of Take Your MLA to Work Day reaffirmed her opinion that everyone has something to contribute, whether it’s in the workplace, at home or elsewhere.
“Take Your MLA to Work Day proved to me once more that all persons have abilities. Lisa from Epic who is [working] at Assiniboine Credit Union is a classic example. She has a good sense of humour…[and is] sociable, friendly and diligent in her discharge of assigned duties,” Marcelino says.
[Her work]…is allowing her to live a fulfilled and dignified life and contribute to the economic and social life of the community. The support that Epic gives her plus the friendship and understanding being accorded to her at ACU point out the abundance of care and compassion in Winnipeg. That is a cause of celebration.”
Lisa worked extensively in customer service prior to joining the ACU staff including stints at Tavern in the Park, Tim Hortons and Breezy Bend Country Club, where she still works part-time during golf season.
Her job at ACU as a member of the branch’s support staff was a new position created at the behest of the credit union’s management team. ACU was already familiar with the efforts of Epic Opportunities having worked with the organization in the past and wanted to do more to support its employment objectives.
“They seemed very, very interested in what we were [doing]. There was never any hesitation on their part,” says Kellie Thai, Lisa’s former job coach and an employment consultant with Epic Opportunities.
Thai says the feedback she has received from Lisa’s current job coach about her performance at ACU has been “incredible.”
“She has grown so much, even just in terms of her self-esteem,” she says. “She’s always been a happy person but you can see what a difference the job has made in her life. She’s extremely proud of what she’s doing and what she’s accomplished.”
While she likes to joke that the free snacks are the best part of her job, Lisa is quick to admit it’s the people she works with who make it worth coming to work every day.
“They’re very friendly. People treat me really well. The people here never judge me,” she says.