In November, Tyler Bacon of Hope spent a day with CLBC CEO Ross Chilton through the MentorAbility program and shares his experience of the day.
MentorAbility Canada is a national supported employment initiative that provides an opportunity for education and awareness to be shared between employers and organizational leaders and people with disabilities in communities throughout Canada.
“When I graduated from high school, I realized that things were going to change and I had to figure things out,” says Tyler Bacon. “I decided that I would like to work in an office setting to get to my long-term goals of working alongside people that could affect change in government and issues for the better.”
To support his goals, Tyler had previously completed the Office Assistant Certificate Program at Okanagan College, and gained volunteer experience as a voting clerk during election season. Through Gizelle Sobkowich, his vocational counsellor at Chilliwack Society for Community Living, Tyler became aware of an opportunity to spend a day with CLBC CEO Ross Chilton through the MentorAbility program. He was excited about the opportunity and submitted a letter explaining why he wanted to take part.
“I would love to be mentored by you to see how you affect change as the CEO for Community Living British Columbia,” wrote Tyler in his letter. “It would be my hopes and dreams to be able to work for a company such as yours to help others find the resources that they may need and facilitate change in the world for persons with diverse abilities.”
Tyler was successful in being selected and November 25 was set as his MentorAbility day. On that Monday morning, Tyler and Gizelle met Ross in Langley, and joined him, along with CLBC Board members, for a tour to visit individuals, families, service providers and CLBC staff. You can read more about this tour here.
At the different stops on the tour, and during the car rides in between, Tyler and Ross had time to connect and share about each other’s backgrounds. Tyler also took advantage of the opportunity to ask Ross all about his job, “Ross explained that an important part of his job is listening to people and getting feedback at meetings, and that it’s important to really spend time and listen to people,” he says.
In asking Ross about his career, Tyler learned the importance of building on experiences to work towards one’s goals. “I realized to be a CEO, Ross had to do a lot of jobs over a long time to take him to where he is today. I shouldn’t give up on my dreams just because there are things that are long-term, not short term. My first job was a paper route, like Ross, and my end goal is to work full-time in an office one day in the future.”
With a keen interest in politics, Tyler was excited to learn about the different people Ross has met and worked with, including the Premier of B.C., the Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction and the Minister of Mental Health and Addiction. The day even led to a new opportunity for Tyler during a visit with the planning committee for the annual regional self advocate conference, “I watched Ross give a message of thanks and was inspired to ask some questions at the meeting. I was asked by the members to be a part of the committee in planning for the next conference. I was excited and graciously accepted.”
For Tyler, the day was a valuable learning experience. “I really appreciated the opportunity to spend the day with Ross learning what he does. I was very inspired to see how Ross listened to everyone’s needs,” he says, “I think this MentorAbility is one step in my learning and growing towards my hopes and dreams.”
Ross echoed Tyler’s appreciation for their time together, “He’s got so many areas of interest and such a depth of understanding, including an incredible political knowledge,” he says. “It was a delight getting to spend time with Tyler. He understood that it was an important opportunity, and I could tell by how he showed up that he was there to take full advantage of it.”
The opportunity to learn was a two-way street, says Ross, “In my role, it’s always important for me understand the lived experience of self advocates – what are their challenges and what are the joyous parts of their lives? One of the great things about spending the day with Tyler was getting to hear all of these things directly from his perspective.”
Impressed by the experience, Ross has already connected with MentorAbility about having participants join upcoming tours taking place later this year in Terrace and Cranbrook.
Find more information about MentorAbility, including video stories from participants, by visiting: www.supportedemployment.ca/mentorability.
If you have questions, or are interested in taking part, you can contact provincial coordinator Jillian Bradley at firstname.lastname@example.org.