In September of 2013 I joined the EPIC Program with Abbotsford Community Services. I had not worked in 5 years prior to that. I had little success with previous employers and employment programs. I was nervous and anxious to start with when I came to EPIC but I was determined to see it through and to find real employment.

My confidence and self-esteem were low at this time. I told the staff at EPIC that I did not want to work in Fast Food, as I had bad experiences working in Fast Food outlets before.

I started with a work experience at Assante Wealth Management. I had never worked with files before, but I took to it right away and they could see how I could help them to clean up their client files and get them better organized.

After the Work Experience at Assante they hired me on a 6 month contract to reorganize their client files. I went through thousands of files in the six months.

With working in a professional office, I needed to update my wardrobe. My wardrobe consisted of hoodies, sweat pants, and running shoes. The branch manager and the receptionist, gave me clothing advice, which helped a lot, my self-confidence and self-esteem grew dramatically while working at Assante.

After this job, I felt that I could do anything!

While working at Assante, the branch manager came to me and asked me to come into the boardroom because she wanted to talk to me. I was extremely nervous and worried that I had done something wrong. When I went into the boardroom, all of the staff from the office were there to wish me a happy birthday. There were cupcakes and cards to celebrate my birthday. I felt very appreciated and loved by my co-workers that day.

Once the job ended with Assante, I still needed money, so I took a job as a Nanny, I found through my personal contacts, to pay the bills for 6 months. Although this job provided me with an income, it was not a job that I wanted to do.

As a result of working in a job I didn’t really like, I found that I was becoming depressed. I started smoking. I was eating too much as well.

EPIC staff told me there was an opening with A&W and even though I had said that I did not want to work in Fast Food, I agreed to give A&W a try.

It was a new situation for me, I was feeling anxious and unsure of myself at work. Sometimes I would become overwhelmed. But I ended up doing much better than I thought I would.

It was a much more physical job than what I was used to, I was on my feet for four hours straight my first shift. Lifting, carrying, cleaning. The first two weeks I was very tired and sore, but I stuck it out. I slept well each night and took plenty of ibuprofen for my sore aching muscles.  I learned how to take care of myself better and found that I would not get so tired anymore and my effort was worth it because I found that I fit right in with the staff and the customers. I enjoyed the work because everyone was so nice.

I was able to talk with my supervisor and the other staff about this and they recognize when things are getting to be too much for me, and stepped-in to help out or provide words of encouragement. Now when I am feeling pressured, I have no problem asking the other staff for help, or taking a quick break to re-group.

The staff and management have come to know me and really appreciate me for who I am and how hard I work. I am also included in all staff events and training sessions. I have learned how to take breaks when I need them and how to ask for help when I need it.

I had a problem with one of my coworkers that was very upsetting for me and I was surprised when I spoke to my supervisor about it, she helped me with the problem and other coworkers were very supportive too.  The problem was solved easily. I was also surprised when I got my first performance review to find out how much my supervisor liked my work.  The customers also tell me how I’m doing a great job and work hard.

I have moved on from EPIC, but I can always call them if I need their help.

It has been a long journey, but a rewarding one. What I would say to all of you,

“Put your best foot forward and don’t let anything hold you back and have a little faith in yourself”