New Calgary non-profit aims to help people with disabilities enter the workforce

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“We make really careful matches based on the person.”

Gateway has worked with clients with disabilities including dyslexia, autism, deafness and anxiety.

Grabinsky said the service is completely free, and generally offers a variety of services to clients.

“We actually provide funding for training, work clothes, child care and bus tickets, along with other needed items ranging from hard hats to minutes on a cellphone,” she said. “We really try to take down any barrier that might exist for someone to get a job.”

As for the added challenge of the pandemic, Grabinsky said it has actually been a bit of a silver lining in some ways.

“We’re providing most of our services over the computer, which is actually helping our clients build their confidence on things like web conferencing software and using their email,” she said. “It’s probably a great side effect in that way.”

She said the association is committed to ensuring clients find safe jobs, and are helping out with things like PPE and hand sanitizer for job interviews.

Holly Singer is an employer who has benefited from Gateway’s program. Her business, Milk Jar Candle Company, found its latest hire by working with Gateway.

They ended up hiring Ethan, who is deaf. He connected with Gateway after losing his previous job in the restaurant industry because of pandemic restrictions.

Singer said Gateway helped with an interpreter for the job interview.

“We kind of hired him on the spot and now he’s been with us for four or five months,” she said, adding that one-third of her nine employees are workers with disabilities.

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