By Gagandeep Ghuman
Published: March 11, 2014
Ed Hebditch was young and flamboyant and he had just got a blind date he chalked up to a weekend of pleasure.
And then he saw the ‘granny’ his friend joked was going to be his blind date.
“We get people who have been involuntary laid off or they have been primary care givers for loved ones.” Sarah Greenwood.
Ed was supposed to be with Val for only two hours, but those two hours extended to 18 years.
The first ten years were pure happiness, but then Val was diagnosed with an incurable illness.
It ate at her body and his soul.
Ed’s days and night were filled with caring for Val, which blurred everything else—job, career and friends.
And when she passed away, Ed woke up to realise he was alone and free.
“I had my life back, but without her,” he said.
He took four years off to regain some of his sanity and to discover ‘normal’ again.
After that hiatus, search for work brought him to Training Innovations and before Sarah Greenwood.
Greenwood coordinates the Encore program which helps mature workers reconnect with a job market they might have lost touch with because of vagaries of life.
These are people who may have had a lot of experience, but perhaps not the new skills or local contacts to easily immerse in the local job market again.
“We get people who have been involuntary laid off or they have been primary care givers for loved ones,” Greenwood said.
A lot of mature people might have worked in a time when resumes and cover letters and connections were not needed.
The ten week program helps them with resumes and teaches them computer skills.
The program also connects them with local business owners who have signed up as mentors, and may give Encore participants a chance to get back to work.
For Ed, that chance came when he met Noel Koehn of Newport Auto.
Noel, impressed with Ed’s experience, hired him as a general manager of Newport Auto.
“All I wanted was a foot in the door, and Encore did that for me,” he said.
The program also helped find Dennis Donald, 59, a foot in the door.
Donald worked at Woodfibre for 32 years, but after the mill shut down, he worked for a few local employers and then ended up at home looking for the right job.
After seeing an ad for Encore in the Chief, his wife asked him to give the program a try.
He, too, has found work with Newport doing maintenance and sundry jobs at the shop.
“Getting out of the house and working, it’s been really good for me,” Donald said.
Besides Newport Auto, Squamish Adventure Centre, the Chamber of Commerce and Best Western Hotel have hired mature workers through the program.