By Nick Candiotto
Reiniere Maghirang arrived in Canada in 1996. In two short years, he was homeless, living in shelters and working in clubs.
"I was kicked out of my Dad's house at 19," Maghirang recalls. "I had nowhere to live."
Enter Eva's Phoenix -- a transitional housing facility that offers a range of employment programs.
"The first thing we needed to take care of was getting Reiniere safe housing," said Andrew Macdonald, social enterprise co-ordinator. "Once he had the basics in place, we were able to concentrate on finding employment."
What Reiniere wanted to do was never in doubt. His mother ran a printing shop in the Philippines -- and Reiniere wanted to follow in her footsteps.
"Printing was his goal," Macdonald said. "The Phoenix Print Shop program was just beginning -- it was a great match."
A hybrid of social service and revenue generation, The Phoenix Print Shop is a small commercial print shop that helps offset some of the costs of the program.
In addition to providing Reiniere with some soft skills and offering a glimpse of the day-to-day routine of a printman, the shop was a springboard to permanent employment.
"One thing we promote is getting out for tours of other shops," Macdonald said. "On one of the tours, he made a connection with someone who was hiring."
That someone was Jeffrey Bush, owner of A-Press Productions in Toronto.
"When I first met Reiniere, he was asking for printing shop information and seemed very sincere," Bush recalls. "I like to hire people who can learn from scratch, so I gave him a chance."
Starting as general help, Reiniere's enthusiasm has led to numerous raises and promotion to a junior pressman.
"Reiniere is a very hard worker and a fast learner," Bush says. "I want to train him to become a press operator because he really wants to do it -- and I think he'd be very good at it."
Reiniere's hard work extends beyong A-Press. He now lives in his own two-bedroom apartment with his younger brother and embraces his role as a peer mentor at Eva's --sharing his experience with current participants.
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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