Drew Derosier is a familiar face at Vernon’s Home Depot, where he now works thanks to the employment services he received at Community Futures North Okanagan and Kindale Developmental Association.
“Drew to electrical,” the loudspeaker calls from above, as the young man manoeuvres his electric wheelchair with fine precision. Driving his chair carefully past shelves and floors lined with power tools, kitchen appliances and other home improvement products, fellow employees, decked out, like the young man in orange aprons, call out with affection, “Hey Drew! What’s the rush?”
A familiar face at Vernon’s Home Depot, Drew Derosier doesn’t like to keep his customers waiting. The 21 year old has worked in the electrical department of the home improvement and appliance retailer for more than one year. He knows halogen lighting from LEDs like the back of his hand.
People can’t help but light up when they meet Derosier. Friendly and affable, his skills in customer service have made him a valuable staff member at Home Depot, where he performs duties from customer service to stocking shelves to floor presentation.
“I make sure everything looks good on the shelf,” explains Derosier, who works three four-hour shifts a week. “If I am able, I even carry items for customers. I’ve been told I am very personable. When Home Depot hired me, they saw that.”
Originally from Revelstoke, Derosier moved to Vernon with his family two years ago. Upon arriving, one of his goals was to find employment in his new community – a task he found difficult at first.
“I had some work experience. I was hired to help out at a physiotherapy clinic, where I had been a client, and also at Revelstoke’s Visitor’s Centre for one summer. Both those jobs had been subsidized through grants,” he said. “But when I got to Vernon, it took a good six months to a year to find me a job.”
Things started to look up after Derosier met with employment case manager Laurie Bertram at the Kindale Developmental Association, who, with partner agency Community Futures North Okanagan (CFNO) and WorkBC, help individuals that have barriers in finding employment receive vocational training and support.
Assigned to Clara-Marie Burdett, customized employment specialist at Kindale, and Selena Stearns, wage subsidy advisor at CFNO, Derosier was provided with the tools he needed to find work.
They really help keep you going. When you’re looking, they encourage you and keep your morale up. It really helped.
“They really help keep you going. When you’re looking, they encourage you and keep your morale up. It really helped,” said Derosier, adding he had access to computers and other resources to help build up his resumé.
After applying to a number of jobs, Home Depot called Derosier back for an interview.
Known as an equal opportunity employer, both locally and internationally, Home Depot bases all of its hiring practices, and not just those candidates with disabilities, on its value wheel, said Dianne Maillet, human resources manager at the Vernon Home Depot. The wheel features eight different values that Home Depot lives by, which can be seen printed on each associate’s orange apron.
“We talk about these values on a daily basis and our associates are reviewed two times a year based on the value wheel. We don’t just talk about it, we breathe it,” said Maillet. “Drew follows all of those values… He may not be able to physically reach the top shelf, but he is able to talk to our customers and help them to the very best of his abilities.”
Maillet also attributes the whole team at the Home Depot for following those same values towards Derosier.
“Drew will come in to the lunchroom to ask help in getting on his apron and to get to his locker and to take his apron off at the end of his shift. Someone always helps him. We make sure as leaders that we are fair and consistent and respect all members of our team.”
“Management at Home Depot has been very good to me. Everyone has helped me out,” added Derosier. “It’s very inclusive here. I’ve never felt like I’m anything different than anyone else in the crew. They hold me to the same standards as any other associate. It’s the greatest place to work.”
And although he thanks a lot of people in helping him get his job at Home Depot, Derosier also credits himself.
“I had a lot of help but I was also independent in my job search with the interviews and other steps. At the end of the day, it was me who got the job, which I am proud of,” he said. “If I can say to anyone who is looking for a job in my situation is usually things will work out. If you have people encouraging you and if you put your mind to it, things will happen.
Through partner agencies such as Kindale Developmental Association, Community Futures North Okanagan and WorkBC provide employment services for individuals with varying abilities. Reach out and learn more!