OHSWEKEN – Cindy Lalonde reached the 20-year milestone of working at Community Living Six Nations (Ronatahskats) last month. She celebrated with staff and friends last week.
“We wanted to show Cindy that we appreciate her years of service here,” said Joel Jamieson, employment consultant for Community Living Six Nations. “We’re proud of her for her dedication and commitment. It’s a huge accomplishment.”
Lalonde is the supervisor of the Ronatahskats gift shop. The shop is part of the Six Nations Supported Employment program (SNSE) at Community Living. 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 gift shop is a place where the people that want to work go to learn valuable workplace skills,” said Jamieson. “And Cindy supervises them while they are working. Sometimes it’s things like cleaning the floors, tidying the shelves or tagging items. There’s a lot of managing for Cindy to do. Part of Cindy’s role is to coach and help them gain job experience.”
Lalonde said she fairly sure her start date at Community Living was February 2, 1997. Her party was held a little late because staff ordered a gift for her that hasn’t arrived yet.
“The present we ordered for her isn’t here yet, but we really wanted to have the party anyways,” said Jamieson.
In the meantime, staff and residents celebrated Lalonde’s milestone with a few short speeches, plaques, lunch, and a poem written and read aloud by Alex Martin; one of the adults in the SNSE program.
“Roses are red. Violets are blue. Here is to 20 years. Cheers to you,” said Martin.
Lalonde said that a lot has changed in the past 20 years of Community Living.
“Back then we had a much larger gift shop and we had the opportunity to sell more items and hire more employees,” she said. “A lot has changed. We’ve had many ups, but we’ve had downs too. That’s just normal business though. It happens.”
Working at Community Living for the past 20 years has been a good experience for her. She’s gotten to know her friend, Gloria Hill, really well. Gloria has been working with her for almost as long as Lalonde has been a part of the team.
“I really like working with Gloria and the other adults here,” she said. “I also really enjoy the retail side of business. It’s nice that the money from the gift shop comes back into the community and helps us run our programs.”