Not all of us consider work to be therapy, but Kyle—a Business Associate working at Providence Care’s Voices, Opportunities and Choices Employment Club—knows first-hand the difference a job can make. Before finding a job at VOCEC Kyle was hesitant to leave his house but over the past few years, Kyle’s held three different jobs and has found his passion – the culinary arts. This fall he’s been accepted to St. Lawrence College’s Culinary Skills program.
“I was diagnosed with schizophrenia, so it was hard for me to find a good life path ,” explained Kyle, “I was in and out of the hospital a few times and certainly kept to myself a bit too much.”
Kyle’s motivation to work began when he discovered the VOCEC program and started working in the car wash at Providence Care’s Montreal Street location. When he started working, he was partnered with an Occupational Therapist who would support him, but soon Kyle was able to work independently. Kyle moved on to work in the contract factory assembling brake system repair kits for high-speed trains. He then chose to apply for a job at the Breaking Ground Café where his interest in preparing food grew.
“I’ve enjoyed cooking my whole life” says Kyle, “but the opportunity at Breaking Ground allowed me to learn new skills and get paid for it. Sometimes work lets you realize what you like to do”. While working in the café, Kyle decided to apply to St. Lawrence College. He’s been accepted and will start classes in the fall.
“He persevered really well,” said Terry Landry, one of Kyle’s former occupational therapists, “it’s not an easy thing overcoming what he’s overcome. We were there to assist and encourage him, but going to St. Lawrence was Kyle’s goal and he reached it. We were a lot more involved with Kyle years ago when he first joined VOCEC, but now we take guidance from him on how we can best offer support.”
For clients served by Providence Care, employment can be just as therapeutic as medication, which is why programs like VOCEC and CHITT are effective in supporting people living with mental illness. Ben Gooch, VOCEC’s program manager explains work in these terms: “work is somewhere you’re needed, somewhere you can contribute and somewhere you can succeed. People at VOCEC take a great deal of pride in their work. There’s significant evidence that work is a cornerstone of recovery and at Providence Care it shows.”