Local volunteer Alex Martin builds essential skills at Six Nations Community Food Bank

OHSWEKEN – If you ask people what their dream job is, you may be hard-pressed to find someone as excited about working in a grocery store as Alex Martin is, but that’s exactly what she wants to do.

“I want to find a job in a grocery store,” said Martin, 23.

Martin has been a volunteer at the Six Nations Community Food Bank for almost four months and she is also a part of the Six Nations Supported Employment program (SNSE) at Community Living Six Nations.

SNSE strives to teach and train the community’s adult band members who have intellectual disabilities the necessary skills and responsibilities they need to get a job.

The program offers coaches to its members. Their job is to lead a little bit at first, but also know when to pull away and let the individual do the job on their own.

“Alex started with us fresh, she’d never had a job before or ever really officially been a volunteer before either,” said Jade Roberts, who works for Community Living and is also Martin’s coach.

Since she started working at the food bank, Martin has learned how to be dependable, comfortable meeting new people and how to build good relationships with her co-workers.

She volunteers at least once a week, sometimes two or three times if the food bank is in the middle of processing a large order.

Martin’s tasks usually include – checking expiry dates on all cans, counting donations, rotating cans and anything else asked by her colleagues – all jobs that are giving her the experience that she needs to one day have her dream of working in a nearby grocery store.

She really likes helping pack the fresh food boxes that the food bank offers its customers.

“My favourite thing is helping organize and pack the fresh green boxes that are handed out monthly,” said Martin. “Packing the lettuce, potatoes and turnip, whatever they have – I love doing it.”

Martin said that she really enjoys being a part of the process that helps the community get food.

“The program really depends on the skill set of each individual,” said Joel Jamieson, SNSE program supervisor. “The end goal for everyone is to get a job, whether it’s full-time or part-time, we want to help everyone get hired.

Alex has really become a role model here at Community Living,” said Jamieson. “Other members here see that she is getting out there, working and making lots of progress towards her goal. Seeing her work so hard really makes everybody else want to be a part of the same thing.”

Both Jamieson and Roberts feel that Martin is doing a fantastic job as a volunteer at the food bank and feel like she has made great progress in the past four months.

“Everybody here has the same dreams and goals as everybody else in the community,” said Roberts. “Nobody is different. We just want to help and make sure that the people here get the same opportunity to make their dreams come true as everyone else gets.”

Martin is still in the volunteer stage, but thinks she will be ready to begin applying to grocery stores soon.

“Hopefully in the new year,” she said.

In 2016, The Two Row Times will feature the story of one local volunteer a month to highlight the important work that volunteers do in the community of Six Nations/New Credit. If you know someone who gives back to their community and feel that they deserve a little recognition, email jayson@tworowtimes.com with “Community Hero” in the subject line and we may feature them.

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