By Nick Candiotto
The biggest thing Marcus Downey was looking for when he arrived at WoodGreen Youth Job Centre was a change.
"I came from a small town looking for job opportunities, but it wasn't working out really well," Downey says. "I moved to the east end and was looking for a fresh start."
"Because he didn't have a job and didn't know what direction he wanted to go in, he had very low self-esteem -- something we definitely wanted to work on," says Gaim Tewelde, a job developer at WoodGreen.
Marcus' employment and financial situations made him a candidate for WoodGreen's Job Connect program. After meeting with a counsellor, Marcus was assigned a job developer.
"We came up with a plan of action to get Marcus working," Tewelde says.
Things moved faster than either could have imagined. During the planning phase, Tewelde found Marcus a placement at Thuna Herbals -- a business established in 1888.
"We needed help with customers, with filling orders, with a number of things," says Roger Lewis, chartered herbalist and store manager. "Marcus was definitely a welcome addition."
And the job was definitely a welcome addition to Marcus' life.
"It's a great environment, great people," Downey says. "It kind of worked out right from the start."
"After two or three days, he knew that's what he wanted to do," Tewelde remembers. "He started to read books and manuals on his own -- he threw himself into his work."
His enthusiasm did not go unnoticed at work. Thuna Herbals ended the subsidized placement -- hiring Marcus as an employee.
"We're very satisfied with his ability -- he's our go to guy," Lewis says.
"I'm a shy person, it usually takes me time to get comfortable," Downey says. "Everybody at Thuna and at Woodgreen did everything to make me comfortable -- I'm very thankful."
"Marcus' story is so great because he's made a complete change, going from an unsure young man to a very confident, very forthcoming individual," Tewelde says.
To identify your neighbourhood youth employment centre for hiring made easy at no cost to you, visit www.oayec.org/yejd_locations.html
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