The clippers buzz as the large tomcat lifts his paw to get his thick undercoat trimmed. Toffee-coloured fur piles up on the linoleum, as Cassie Martel watches for any sign of escape. The cat purrs as the razor gently caresses his belly.
“That’s going to feel so much better, especially in this heat,” says Cam Albert, Cassie’s employer and owner of Wet Spot Grooming and Pet Care, where Cassie has been working since March.
“I have four cats of my own, and I grew up with dogs. It was always my dream job to work with animals,” says Cassie.
For the Love of Kids and Animals
In the past, Cassie says she experienced challenges in finding and retaining work. She attended college to upgrade her math and get her Grade 12 equivalency but knew she wanted more. That’s when she decided to enter Employ!, a 10-week youth employment program that helps youth find and maintain work.
“I first entered the program more than two years ago, and I ended up working in the fast-food industry. I knew I wanted to do something different, so I re-entered the program this year, and it has helped me so much,” says Cassie. “I used to hold back in the past. I love kids and animals, but I struggled with shyness. Now I am working in an environment where I feel comfortable and where I feel I can contribute.”
During EMPLOY! participants take part in valuable workshops such as resume building and interview and communication skills development. They can also receive certificates in First Aid, Customer Service, and Essential Computer Skills, all the while working with a Job Coach to find the best fit for their skills.
“All participants are supported in finding and maintaining employment. In Cassie’s case, she was interested in working with animals, so we contacted Cam and her partner Andrew Davis at Wet Spot to see if they might have a part-time employment opportunity for Cassie,” says Angela Bushey, Employ! Job Coach.
Learning to Be a Better Employer
Cam says Cassie came to them at the right time, as she and Andrew were looking to hire someone but didn’t know where to start. Concerned they couldn’t afford to train someone, having just bought into the business late last year, they were relieved to discover that employers who hire Employ! participants can also receive a reimbursement for up to 120 hours, which helps to mitigate the training costs.
“It was such a helpful experience for both Cassie and me, as I had never been a manager before. It taught me to be a better employer,” says Cam.
Cam and Cassie worked together on making task lists and schedules that worked for both of them.
“When she first came here she was super shy, but she came out of her shell and took direction well,” says Cam. “People think this is an easy job to do, but you need to be persistent, confident, and assertive, as people can be protective of their pets. You need good customer relations skills in this industry.”
Now working part-time at Wet Spot since March, Cassie has not only developed a close relationship with all the customers —both human and animal — she has become a member of the family and even looks after Cam and Andrew’s daughter Lilly on occasion.
“I love it here,” says Cassie, who continues to receive ongoing support from her Employ! Job Coaches. “I am going to get my First Aid for children and animals and want to continue upgrading my computer skills. I am excited about what the future has in store.”
Are you or someone you know a youth looking for opportunities to improve employability skills and receive paid training? The next intake of Employ! starts Oct. 15, 2019. Contact Angie at 250-545-2215 ext. 215 to learn more.