Since March 2011, Amanda Hart has worked as Office Assistance at GroupHEALTH Global Partners in White Rock. Her duties include doing the mail, filing, photocopying and printing labels, keeping all photocopiers filled with papers, tidying the kitchen and looking after the plants in the office.
Amanda, who lives in Cloverdale, gets to work by taking a 20-minutes bus trip, including one transfer. “She’s never, never late,” says Cheryl Olson-Little, Office Coordinator at GroupHEALTH.
“Employment Training and Support (ETS) program taught Amanda work skills and supported her to take public transportation,” says Jo-Ann, Ahohen, ETS Program Manager. “For a while, she worked at KNV Accounting in a janitorial job, but as time progressed it was evident that she had administrative skills. So, Dana Miller, who is the Program Coordinator for the Customized Employment (CE) Program, stepped in.”
Dana approached GroupHEALTH to see if they would offer employment to Amanda. “We didn’t hesitate,” exclaims Cheryl. “We’re so thrilled to have Amanda as part of our team. She’s an incredibly loyal and hard worker.”
Amanda perks up and smiles when she hears Cheryl’s accolades. She adds: “I look forward to come in the office. I enjoy every task assigned to me. I’ve made friends too. For example, TJ and I go for lunch together, not every day but sometimes.”
Amanda is always willing to help with special projects in other departments. However, she likes to make sure that all her tasks as Office Assistance are done first. “She’s very conscientious and disciplined about her duties,” says Cheryl. “When I see that the other department has a higher priority, I explain that to Amanda and give her permission to do her regular job later. She needs to know that’s alright.”
About a year ago, Amanda and Cheryl encountered a rough spot. Cheryl sat down with Amanda and started asking questions. Amanda admitted getting bored with her job. So, Cheryl began to give her more challenging assignments and Amanda rose to the occasion. “We’re getting close to that point again where she’ll need something more substantial,” recognizes Cheryl. “She’s constantly progressing, always on her way up.”
Amanda is outgoing. She won’t let anyone go through reception without a greeting. She gladly participates in all the social events at the office. “She lightens up the place,” says Cheryl. “We love her big laugh that comes from the depth of her belly; it echoes through the office. She compliments people on the way they dress, particularly if they wear purple.” Amanda confirms: “Purple is my favourite colour. I love everything purple.”
After a hard day’s work, Amanda likes to spend time home alone with a cup of tea. That’s her way to wind down. “I like to be on my own then. I need that time for myself,” says Amanda.
When she’s not at work, Amanda participates in the Special Olympics. She says: “I do gymnastics and I bowl. This year, I’m going to the provincials in Langley. I’m also part of the social club. We have social nights where we watch a movie or make soup.” When asked if she would like to travel, she replies: “I would like to travel with someone I am comfortable with.”
Amanda also likes to watch the Canucks with her dad. Cheryl teases out of her: “Who’s your favorite Canuck?” Amanda says a little shyly: “Number 14… Alex Burrows.” Amanda won’t admit it, but Cheryl suspects that she finds him attractive. “She’s got that glistening in her eye,” jokes Cheryl.
Amanda is very giving. She likes to arrive to White Rock early and go to Semiahmoo Mall, which is located across the street from the office, and shop for others. “Yesterday, I bought a shirt for my mom’s birthday,” proudly reveals Amanda.
“Hiring Amanda was the best decision,” concludes Cheryl. “We’ve never looked back. She’s gone through so much growth and we’re proud to have a part in that.”
Meanwhile, Amanda has quietly gone back to her work, attentively processing the mail.
By Louise Tremblay, The Semiahmoo Foundation
Semiahmoo House Society, a non-profit organization located in Surrey/White Rock, exists to provide quality services and supports to people with disabilities and their families in the community.
The Semiahmoo Foundation, located in Surrey/White Rock, exists to fund, support and enhance the programs and services delivered by Semiahmoo House Society.