Donna Lecompte and Bobbie Tippe at Tim Hortons. (Josh Piercey-Revelstoke Review)

Donna Lecompte and Bobbie Tippe at Tim Hortons. (Josh Piercey-Revelstoke Review)

Giving a purpose: Revelstoke program helps people with disabilities find employment

September is Disability Employment Month in B.C.

Five years ago Bobbie Tippe was in and out of jobs, unable to hold down anything steady because of the one thing he couldn’t control.

“No-one wants to hire someone with a disability,” said Tippe. “Employers don’t have the time or patience to hire someone that has a disability.”

That’s when Tippe went to Donna and Brian Lecompte, owners of Revelstoke Tim Hortons. The couple hired Tippe, looking past his disability and seeing an opportunity to give him an equal chance to work and earn a living.

They hired him because they knew he was able to do the job, but Tippe recounted getting the job because his brother was Brian’s former business partner.

“Just so you know Bobbie, that had nothing to do with it,” said Donna. “It was you who got you your job.”

Tippe, like many others in our community and across our country, has a disability that makes him less employable, in the eyes of some businesses.

“I think that the benefit outweighs the cost,” said Donna. “The benefits of seeing him happy and his life fulfilled to the point where he’s able to have a job and function.”

This September marks the fourth annual Disability Employment Month in B.C., highlighting the contributions of people with disabilities in the workforce, and the employers and communities who support their success.

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According to the provincial government, approximately 334,000 individuals in B.C. self-identify as having a disability. The unemployment rate for someone with a disability is 4.5 per cent higher than that of someone without a disability, and they are more than twice as likely to live in poverty.

Born in New Westminster and raised in Revelstoke, Tippe is like any other Revelstokian: he likes to hunt, fish and golf and spends most of his time with his dad, who he says is his ‘best friend in the world’.

At a previous job, Tippe claimed he asked for a raise, and they denied him on account of his disability.

“That right there, that was a slap in the face to me,” said Tippe.

At another job opportunity, Tippe claimed that his manager told him ‘you just remember who hired you.’

“Someone should walk a mile in my shoes for the day and see just how hard it is,” Tippe said.

Community Connections has a program in Revelstoke that helps those with disabilities find jobs.

“We want to help people find their dream job,” said Brittany Palasz of Community Connections. “The program gives individuals purpose in their community.”

In larger markets, similar programs benefit from partnerships with corporations who can better integrate people into their programs due to funding. However, in Revelstoke, the small staff sizes and limited budgets of small local businesses makes employing people with disabilities less appealing, Palasz said.

Employing someone through the program can create a rewarding work experience for all involved: teaching those with disabilities skills and teaching others compassion towards those with disabilities, said Palasz.

A Job Accommodation Network study found that more than half of 1,100 employers of people with disabilities in B.C. benefited from increased overall company morale and productivity.

“I like to work,” said Tippe. “There’s all kinds of people who sit around and do nothing. Not this guy.”

Community Connections has individuals looking for work. If you’re an employer looking to take advantage of the program, or an individual looking to connect and learn more, you can contact community connections through email at info@community-connections.ca or by phone at 250-837-2920.

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josh.piercey@revelstokereview.com

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