Gaining employment has been an empowering experience for local Cleveland resident, Olivia O’Donnell, who hasn’t let her intellectual disability stand in her way.
Thanks to flexible employers like Phaedra White who owns and runs Enhancers of Cleveland Hair Salon, 18 year old Olivia works regular weekly shifts where she helps keep the salon tidy and prepares some of the equipment needed by the stylists.
Since starting at the salon six weeks ago, Olivia now walks to work where she earns her own pay cheque each week, and is on the path to greater independence.
“I like working at the salon because I get to earn my own money and I can go to the shops and buy my own food or beanie boos’” says Olivia.
Olivia’s employer, Phaedra, initially approached Myhorizon’s Employment and Training Office in Cleveland, seeking someone to support her in her salon a few hours per week, and Olivia was quickly matched up as a perfect candidate.
“Olivia is very polite, friendly and caring, and we all love having her around” Says Phaedra. “I’ve also noticed positive changes in her confidence level, and her knowledge and skillset around the salon are also improving”.
Prue Saint, Olivia’s Employment Coordinator from Myhorizon Cleveland, has also seen a significant and positive difference in Olivia since starting her job at the salon.
“Olivia is becoming more confident with leaving home by herself now, and also improving in her communication with other people and being able to follow a list of jobs to be done. All those things are getting better each day.” Says Prue.
“It’s about placing people in the right jobs with the right employers and providing them with ongoing on-the job support and training so they have the best chance for success” says Prue.
As a local Redlands business owner, Phaedra also advocates for more local businesses to open their doors and minds to employing individuals with a disability.
“It has been so rewarding and fulfilling to have Olivia join our team, and we really appreciate her different perspective on things.” Says Phaedra. “I urge more businesses to consider employing someone with a disability as it’s a great contribution to the community as well”.