Text messaging provides employment solution

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Room keepers at White Point Beach Resort obviously don’t want to walk into a cottage or other accommodation to startle a customer or worse.

Text messaging provides employment solution

This posed a seemingly insurmountable problem for Brooklyn resident, Nicole Smith, who has been hearing impaired since she was a two-week-old premature baby. She can’t hear an answer if she knocks on a door.

Enter the new world of text messaging. Text messaging involves typing into a cellular telephone or other device and pressing send to reach another phone. Teenagers, with their heads down typing while walking Queens Co.’s streets, are the most visible sign of the technology.

But it has also provided Smith with a job.

Smith, through hard work and her partnership with White Point Beach Resort and Employment Solutions Society is now training to become a room keeper in the housekeeping department of the resort.

She used to work at Mersey House before it closed down, also in cleaning. During much of her life, however, she said, “It’s been hard for me to find a job by myself because I’m hearing impaired.”

She went to Employment Solutions Society Job Development Coordinator Jim Key for assistance. In Queens Co., the Society specializes in helping people with disabilities find employment or start a business. Smith said, “I want to say thank you to them for helping me out in finding a job.”

Key contacted the resort. Executive Housekeeper Pam Miles said, “I’ve done this before with other people. I like to promote these people, who have a hard time.”

She added, “They (White Point executives) really, really want to be part of the community and have a good working relationship with the community. Also, if it helps someone, it helps us too. She can become a valuable workers and why shouldn’t she? Everybody has the right to work.”

Smith’s training started July 13 with communicating the obvious challenge. No one can remember who came up with the text messaging idea but it was “wonderful,” said Miles. Employment Solutions provided the devices.

Miles said, “I can check on the computer when someone has checked out. Then I can text to Nicole and tell her the people in cottage 12 have gone. She then tells me the cottage is done. I say thank you; where are you going next? We are never without communication. This is no different than someone calling me. It’s just a different way of doing it.” She added other employers could use the technology as well.

Smith’s confidence is growing quickly as time goes on. “I enjoy working here,” she said. “I like to meet other new people.” She added she enjoys the independence involved with having a job and plans to pay for her car. She said she also likes her co-workers, including one she is training with.

Miles said, “I can see a difference since she’s been here and she’s always on time, follows the schedule and doesn’t call off. She’s been getting happier the longer she’s been here.” Smith, who read lips well, smiles and nods.

Both women’s hands are always flying but it’s not sign language, something Smith is going to teach her boss.

Miles explained, “We just have a connection, but it’s really about the team and it all started with Nicole.”

Employment Solutions Society is a non-profit agency funded through the Canada-Nova Scotia Labour Market Development Agreement under the direction of Employment Nova Scotia. The Society has been providing services in Queens Co. since 1994.

The role of the Queens Co. office is to enhance employment opportunities for people with disabilities by providing access to employability assessments, employment readiness training services, job development/employment maintenance professionals, and also by accessing funding programs such as the Wage Subsidy and Skills Enhancement (Training). They can also assist with funding for clients who wish to start a business.

The office also provides funding programs to purchase assistive technologies and ergonomic devices if necessary to allow a person with a disability to perform work duties.

Key added, “We work closely with employers and have developed numerous employer partners who recognize the abilities of our clients and are willing to provide them with employment opportunities.”

Organizations: Queens Co., White Point Beach Resort, Employment Solutions Society Mersey House

Geographic location: Brooklyn, White Point

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