CANOE Network

The Toronto Sun CareerConnection


Connecting to opportunity

By Nick Candiotto
Toronto Sun

Mike Cabral wanted to find a job. When he wasn't having much luck, he turned to St. Stephen -- well, sort of.

The 25-year-old approached St. Stephen's Community House, and enlisted the services of its Employment Training Centre (ETC).

"I have real problems reading and writing," Cabral says. "And nobody wanted to take a chance with me."

"As a result of his extreme literacy issues, he was unemployed for over two years before coming to us," says Giselle Perri, St. Stephen's Job Development Placement Service (JDPS) co-ordinator.

Mike qualified for a government-funded program that helps unemployed youths in their search for a job. As part of the Job Connect program, Mike was assigned an employment counsellor.

"He was going out with her to interviews, following in his car because he couldn't read the street signs," Perri says. "This went on for five or six months."

After a placement as a maintenance person at the Canadian National Exhibition, Mike's dream match came into view -- working with cars at Apollo Volvo Specialists.

"We were looking to give somebody an opportunity and didn't have the money for an apprenticeship, so St. Stephen's was the answer," Apollo's Sylvie Rodrigues says.

The repair shop qualified for a wage subsidy in exchange for training Mike -- and his work trial began.

"I was here for two weeks as a tryout," Cabral says. "It was up to the shop if they wanted me to stay."

"It was never in doubt. Mike has been absolutely fantastic ... he's great with his hands. We've had a lot of compliments from clients that our shop is so clean," Rodrigues says.

As Mike enters his third week of employment at Apollo, he still remembers his long job search.

"At St. Stephen's, they really focus on helping you ... they don't give up."

Either did Mike Cabral.

For more information about St. Stephen's Community House, visit the Web site at

To identify your neighbourhood youth employment centre for hiring made easy, at no cost to you, visit

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