While many students are spending their summers in unfulfilling jobs, Shai Loyie, 18, and Caitlin Fletcher, 17, both are loving their time working for Community Living Fort Frances & District.
Community Living is a non-profit, charitable organization that provides support to individuals with developmental disabilities and their families.
“I decided to apply because it’s always been a field that I’ve been interested in,” said Loyie.
“I’ve always been interested in working with people with disabilities and being a part of their every-day life,” she added.
“So when I heard of this opportunity, I jumped to the opportunity to get the summer job.”
“I did a co-op with Community Living last semester through school, and then I heard about the opportunity,” noted Fletcher, who will be pursuing social work at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay this fall.
“I really enjoy the job.”
Fletcher added she wants to experience different aspects of the social work field before deciding which stream she wants to work in.
Loyie, meanwhile, still is not sure which career path she wants to take.
“I’m not 100 percent sure what I’m going to do yet so I’m staying back a year,” she explained.
“This job has made me realize that this could be a possibility,” Loyie added.
“I’m leaning more towards social work now because it’s something that I enjoy doing.”
While her position with Community Living is only for the summer, Loyie reasoned the experience will open a lot of doors for her down the road.
The two students have found the job to be quite unique.
“We plan activities for the service-users to participate in,” Loyie said. “We take them to the movies, to coffee, we take them out for lunch.
“We have to be very flexible because it all depends on what they want to do,” she explained.
“Sometimes it’s pretty long shifts but it’s worth it.”
The pair, in addition to working a usual eight-hour day, often are busy with activities in the evening, as well.
Usually they are working with small groups or individual service-users, although they also plan larger events for everyone to participate in.
Last Wednesday, for instance, the Community Living group met at the Memorial Sports Centre to participate in a bike rodeo organized by the OPP summer students in the afternoon, then went bowling a few hours later at Plaza Lanes.
“It’s interesting because it was an eye-opener of what the field is really like,” said Loyie, who has enjoyed the first-hand experience she has gained.
For her part, Fletcher said she’s learned “. . . more communication and social skills” during her months with the organization.
“Bonding with the service-users; we’ve really gotten to know them,” Fletcher added, citing her favourite part of the job.
“It’s going to be hard leaving,” admitted Loyie. “As stressful as it can be at times, as crazy as it is, we will miss the service-users.
“In a way, we’re touching their lives and making their lives that much better,” she remarked. “We’re having a positive impact on them.”
“They’re the ones [who] make the job worth it.”