For Adam Clarke, going forward is a way of life. He views each new day as an opportunity to further himself both personally and professionally. And while it hasn’t always been easy, he’s managed to make miles worth of strides.
Adam is an Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) Employment Supports client who has memory and hearing loss. Adam says he initially enrolled in the Employment Supports program because he was tired of feeling isolated and wanted to meet new people, while leading a more productive life. He was connected with ODSP Employment Supports Service Provider Start Me Up Niagara, who helped him develop the skills he needed to find a job.
“Adam had a very strong interest in working with computers,” explains Jennifer Gorman, Employment Counsellor for Start Me Up Niagara. “So we helped him through the process of taking technical training and getting certification so he could be competitive in the market.”
Start Me Up Niagara also helped Adam develop his job search skills so that he had the confidence to approach employers on his own. He took those skills and used them to land his current position working as a computer technician for Niagara.com.
“He really knows his technical end of the business,” explains Adam’s manager Bernie Borgmann. “He’s an integral part of what we do here now, and Adam basically runs the show when I’m gone.”
Bernie says that in no way has Adam’s disability affected his ability to do the job.
“We have a number of options on the phone systems for hand sets or head sets,” he explains. “So whatever it was that he required, we just catered to that.”
Bernie has been so pleased with Adam’s performance in fact, that he’s allowed him to take on more responsibility and recently given him a raise. He says that the determination and interest Adam has shown in the business makes him an extremely valuable employee, and recommends that other employers be open to people who show the same potential, regardless of whether they have a disability.
“If you’re willing to invest in someone that’s willing to invest in your company,” he explains, “then you have someone who can be a good employee. And that was one of the main differences with Adam. There were people who would apply for the job and they were only looking at it as a transition type thing. But with Adam, I thought that this is someone we could have as a long-term employee.”
Since starting at Niagara.com, Adam has made leaps and bounds. He’s met his current fiancé, started planning their wedding and now has plans to move out on his own for the first time.
“Life has changed dramatically in the three years I’ve been here,“ he says. “ODSP has helped me tremendously.”
The program has allowed Adam to achieve career success, and given him a new sense of confidence in return.
“He feels so good about himself,” explains Jennifer. “He is a wonderful inspiration to anybody who wants to see how working can really transform your life … He’s just moving forward, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.”
Don't let good talent go to waste. People with disabilities can and want to work.