What brought you to EMBERS?
EMBERS actually came to me.
I was coping with burnout from the opioid crisis. I sat on the board of the Aboriginal Front Door and was volunteering for that organization for eight months when the crisis hit hard. I was part of the response, and it was very traumatic to lose so many people and to be in an environment where only the media, harm reduction communities, and the first responders were taking the crisis seriously. I witnessed the impact of the crisis on the first responders, and that too was traumatic. My daughter was a teenager and was also impacted by the crisis. My only way to cope was to stop working and just play soccer.
I was approached by Doug Aason (EMBERS Staffing Solutions’ Director of Business Development) at one of the practices of Vancouver Street Soccer League. Doug’s been training there as well. I’m a stellar goalkeeper and a strong, athletic person, so after many sessions of practicing, Doug approached me after a soccer game, and said ‘Why don’t you try out EMBERS?’ I was interested because I wanted to get my daughter working. I also know the benefits of being physically active and how that helps your mind. Doug offered me physical labour, so I decided to try it out.
Both me and my daughter signed up and were oriented at the same time. My daughter was not work-ready yet, but I was. I got on the job site and started working and realized it was helping me. I realized I could do the work. I didn’t know how strong I was. I’ve been with EMBERS since Jan 2018 and have around 600 hours.
What were you doing before you came to EMBERS?
I worked in culture and the food services industry, as well as a lot of social enterprises, doing a variety of tasks, like prepping meals.
What kind of barriers made it difficult for you to find work before EMBERS?
Poverty, transportation, and most of all, the fear of the unknown were definitely barriers. Construction intimidated me. I would not have approached this industry on my own without Doug inviting me here, even though I come from a family of home builders. I also couldn’t afford the equipment, so borrowing the equipment from EMBERS really helped.
What’s your favourite part about working with EMBERS?
Knowing that the workers are local people and that you (EMBERS) don’t turn anyone away within reason. You offer rides to work and have a good crew of people here and that matters. You are safe and approachable.
When people ask you about EMBERS, what do you tell them?
I tell them that EMBERS provides services to different industries. Construction is not the only industry, but there is also hospitality and customer service. People ask if it is a temping industry, and I have to give the clarification that it is a little bit more. When I break down the pay structure, the weekly pay and the advances, everyone is amazed. A couple guys on my site are from Ireland, and they got work from EMBERS. They were saying that there is nothing like EMBERS in Ireland. They would love to have that there.
How has EMBERS has helped you?
EMBERS’ reduction of barriers was super helpful. I didn’t have to put together a resume, do a job search, or have any job interviews. I could just show up and work. I didn’t have to worry about money management or transportation to the job site because I could get cash advances and bus tickets from the EMBERS office. EMBERS eliminated all the back-to-work barriers that I didn’t even think about in the moment.
EMBERS has also given me a great sense of accomplishment. When I started my first week, it was 10 hours. I’m now at 40 hours, with them wanting me to do overtime. To be able to increase my employability from 20% to 100%, that’s huge. Without EMBERS, I wouldn’t be able to accomplish that. Thank you EMBERS for all your help.
Since this interview, Debbie has been hired for a full-time, permanent role with a major construction company in the city. We are honoured to have been a part of Debbie’s career journey and wish her all the best with her new job.