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This article was published 27/10/2018 (1092 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Armed with a mop or a towel, Edward Case is on the lookout for things to clean.
The 40-year-old Case, who lives with special needs and was recently followed for a short time by a Free Press reporter and photographer at the McDonald’s restaurant on Henderson Highway, is constantly on the move. He is looking for pop spilled on the floor, for a table that needs to be cleared of empty cups and paper wrappings, and to ensure that the drink station is clean.
Case does this three times a week for a few hours each day.
And, unlike many adults living with disabilities, Case is not volunteering — he is getting paid.
Case is lucky. People living with special needs have the highest unemployment rates in society.
A 2014 report by Statistics Canada found the employment rate of Canadians aged 25 to 64 living with a physical or mental disability was 49 per cent, compared with 79 per cent for Canadians without a disability. As well, 12 per cent of people overall living with special needs — including 33 per cent of those with severe or very severe disabilities — report they were refused a job because of their disability.
But thanks to a partnership between this McDonald’s restaurant and Pulford Community Living Services, Case has a job. And there soon could be others joining him in employment.
Ryan McCullough, the restaurant’s owner/operator, is working with Pulford, a not-for-profit community-based organization which provides housing and support for people living with developmental disabilities, to hire as many people living with special needs as he can.
"When I saw Edward, I had this vision," McCullough said recently.
"I saw him volunteering at our McHappy Day and he was doing such a good job communicating with our guests in his own way. I thought, ‘Why couldn’t he do this and get paid for it?’
"He’s now the first (adult living with special needs) in my career that has applied for a job with us."
When McCullough went to Pulford to ask if Case would be willing to apply to work for McDonald’s, Pulford’s response was to have Case try it by volunteering first.
"We don’t want a person to say yes, I want to work there, and then a week later walk away," said Andy Russo, Pulford’s director of organizational development.
"It’s best to make a decision during the volunteer time. If both sides are happy, then it will turn into employment. Edward is the first in my time here who was able to gain paid employment. We’ve had a number of people volunteer at places, but Edward is getting paid."
Russo said the match between Case and McDonald’s is so great, Pulford decided to put together a video to show both the public and potential employers the potential of people living with special needs. The video is on Pulford’s website at pulford.ca/news/edward-case-story-inclusion-and-opportunity
"This job keeps him busy and he’s happy," Russo said.
"His sister and family have seen a change in him. It just starts with somebody giving him an opportunity and opening a door. We talk about inclusion but it starts with each and every one of us."
Seeing Edward working not only makes his sister, Karen, and the rest of his family proud of him, but also comforted.
"I’m very happy for him — he is doing what everybody else is doing. And this has helped him so much. He likes feeling he is helping people.
"It makes him really happy."
Case was born and lived up north in Gillam before moving to Thompson as an adult to enter a day program and live there.
But through the years, Case’s family moved down south and they applied for Edward to move to Winnipeg. It took a few years, but he finally moved to a Pulford group home earlier this year.
Now, with the job, Case’s sister says her brother is taking his place fully in society.
"It’s perfect for him," she said. "He always had a knack for cleaning. He comes home and needs to do the dishes.
"When people see him, they can’t see right away that he has a disability. I still worry he could offend somebody, but he doesn’t really mean to.
"And being out in public helps him to expand his skills."
Case himself doesn’t say much, but when asked if he likes the work he is doing, he quickly responds, "I’m happy."
And, when asked what his favourite part of the job is, Case gives a quick smile and says, "I like mopping best."
It’s easy to see how much Case loves mopping. Every few minutes he pulls out the red bucket on wheels, puts out yellow warning signs on the floor, and begins moving the wet mop around the floor, between and under tables and in the areas where people walk the most.
And Karen says her brother loves his work so much, he’ll suddenly do it at other McDonald’s restaurants.
"I was having coffee with him at the McDonald’s at Club Regent and he began cleaning there — he doesn’t even work there. But he saw it needed to be done, so he did it."
McCullough knows firsthand how many people living with special needs are capable of doing far more than people give them credit to do. His parents adopted a girl with cerebral palsy when she was two and he grew up assisting her with not only homework, but also in learning to skate. She is now the mother of two and works full-time at a bakery making dog biscuits.
McCullough said what impresses him most about Case is what the man does whenever he checks tables in one corner of the restaurant.
"I told him to mash the garbage down in this bin," McCullough said. "If you do that we can fit more garbage in the bag and we don’t have to take it outside as often... I tell all my employees to do that, but Edward is the only one who does it."
McCullough hopes that in the future, Case can be trained to help with the french fry fryers or to hand food out to guests at the drive-thru window.
And McCullough says there is room for more employees like Case — he owns 10 other McDonald’s locations in the city.
"This has turned out to be a great thing and a great initiative, not just for him, but for our own people. They’ve all learned how to be an inclusive family."
And, now that Case is earning his own money, what will he spend it on?
"He likes electronics," his sister says. "I’m sure he’ll want to buy a big-screen laptop.
"It’s wonderful that someone like Edward was given a chance — he has a lot of potential.
"I’m very proud of him."
Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.
EVENTS commemorate the First World War
Two Remembrance Day events are being held to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War. The Legislative Library is hosting As the War Ends: Manitoba Newspapers Recount the Last Days from Nov. 1 to 13 in the Legislative Building’s grand staircase and reading room. The selected newspapers come from the library’s historic collection, the largest collection of Manitoba newspapers in the world. The Archives of Manitoba, at 200 Vaughan St., is also marking the anniversary by holding Remembrance Week events from Nov. 8 to 10, starting with a selection of First World War letters and diaries read aloud by students from Kelvin High School on Nov. 8 at 7 p.m., followed with an open house featuring a display of original records related to Manitobans at home or overseas during the war on Nov. 9 and 10 from noon to 4 p.m. Both events are free.
Drink bubbly to help social enterprises
The Jubilee Fund is holding a fundraising champagne brunch on Nov. 3. The event organized by the charitable fund, which offers loan guarantees and bridge funding to non-profit organizations and social enterprises, is being held at the Assiniboine Park Pavilion and features a keynote address by former Winnipeg police chief Devon Clunis. Tickets cost $100 with a donation receipt for 40 per cent of the price being issued. Tickets can be purchased by going to jubileefund.ca/events/champagne-brunch/ or calling 204-589-5001.
Paralympic athlete to speak at jnf event
Noam Gershony, an Israeli helicopter pilot who survived a crash and became a paralympic gold medallist, will be speaking at a JNF Manitoba and Saskatchewan event on Nov. 7. The event, which is free, is being held at the Shaarey Zedek Synagogue beginning at 7 p.m. To attend, RSVP to email@example.com or call 204-947-0207.
Dominica celebrates independence
You can help celebrate the independence of Dominica on Nov. 10. The Commonwealth of Dominica Manitoba Association is celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Caribbean country’s independence with a dinner at the Norwood Hotel starting with cocktails at 6:30 p.m. Music will be provided by Reg B and tickets cost $60 for adults and $30 for youth and children. For tickets call Kenora at 204-396-2663 or Emaline at 204-488-3372.
Concert deals with truth, reconciliation
Camerata Nova is holding the second of three concerts highlighting truth and reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples at Crescent Fort Rouge United Church on Nov. 3 and 4. Fallen, designed by artistic director and composer Andrew Balfour, features Indigenous cellist Cris Derksen, traditional drummer and singer Cory Campbell and the Winnipeg Boys’ Choir. Balfour founded Camerata Nova in 1996, and is himself a victim of the ‘60s Scoop. Tickets, which can be purchased at McNally Robinson Booksellers, cost $30 for adults, $25 for seniors, $15 for teens and adults under 30, and children under 12 are free.
Comedy fundraiser for theatre
Sarasvati Productions is holding a women’s comedy night fundraiser on Nov. 14. The event, being held at Club 200 at 190 Garry St., features an early show at 7 p.m., and a late show at 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased in advance by calling 204-586-2236 or going to www.sarasvati.ca. Some tickets may be available at the door.
EDUCATING students with Down syndrome
The 23rd annual conference on educating students with Down syndrome is being held on Nov. 6. The See Me Beautiful Parent and Educator Conference, hosted by the Manitoba Down Syndrome Society, helps educators, parents and community members support people with Down syndrome. The conference is being held at the Canad Inn Polo Park. Registration costs $80 for a professional educator and $30 for a parent. To register go to https://manitobadownsyndromesociety.com/?post_type=dd_events&p=2531
Help defeat cancer, MAYBE WIN SOME CASH
Odds are good for winning the Canadian Cancer Society’s Daffodil Cash Lottery this year — only 17 per cent of available tickets had been sold by Oct. 18. The lottery features a grand prize of $75,000 and a 50/50 draw which could rise to $720,000. Tickets are $60 for one lottery ticket, $150 for three or $200 for five, while the 50/50 draw, which can only be purchased once a lottery ticket is bought, costs $10 for one, $25 for three and $75 for 10.
Tickets can be purchased by calling 1-866-224-1774 or at www.cancer.ca/mblottery.
Updated on Saturday, October 27, 2018 at 8:13 AM CDT: Photo added
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