Tom seems relaxed, well-spoken and has an optimistic outlook on his life. But just one year ago, things were very different.
Struggling with anxiety and depression, Tom spent years living in his small town home, avoiding people and isolating himself from the rest of the world. He could not face looking for a job as he dreaded the thought of not being accepted by his co-workers.
After moving to Guelph, Tom accepted that he had to find work in order to pay his rent. Not knowing where to start, a friend referred him to Lutherwood’s Employment Services so he gave it a chance.
Lutherwood’s Youth Job Connection, a program to help youth facing barriers find work, attracted Tom as participants are paid for the hours they attend workshops. This meant he could focus on finding meaningful work without the added worry of affording rent and day-to-day expenses.
Nervous about starting the program, he soon saw the benefits. “I was astounded by all the information we received; things that I never learned in school,” he noted. The practice interviews he did with Lutherwood staff helped him calm his anxiety and Iearn how to advocate for himself. He also saw a change in his ability to connect with the other participants. “It wasn’t just about finding a job, it was about learning to work as a team,” he added. “The program gave me a different perspective on people after hearing their stories and the challenges they faced. I realized I’m not the only one who has struggled.” He found himself making friends and socializing with the group after workshops.
“Being around others gave me confidence. With that, and the knowledge I gained in the program, I felt less worried about finding a job.”
With Lutherwood’s help, Tom found, applied for and accepted a customer service job in a retail setting. While Tom had never considered a job this is an area, he feels the job is a perfect fit for him.
“Working in customer service, I’ve realized there are a lot of friendly people,” he reflected “This job gives me the opportunity to be around people, but also lets me unwind during quieter times which helps prevent things from becoming overwhelming.” His favourite part of the job is being able to work closely with his co-workers. After six months in his position, he has formed many good relationships, and even met his girlfriend.
“This program changed my life. Lutherwood helped me find a job that I enjoy, and that I can see myself working at for a long time.”
"Having suffered from a serious mental illness most of my life, I feel the need to give back to those that suffer from similar hardship and struggles; especially the kids in our community. I appreciate being given the opportunity to support children's mental health initiatives like Steps for Kids."