"Everyone deserves to be connected to their community and to be treated with dignity and respect."
South Country Co-op is incredibly honoured and proud of our Team today. REDI Enterprises observed Disability Employment Awareness Month (DEAM) with a luncheon on Thursday, October 5, 2023. At this event, our 13th Avenue food centre manager, Kevin Wagner, was presented with the first ever Changemaker award for his commitment to inclusive workplaces.
Kevin was also given the chance to speak about his experience working with REDI and employing individuals from their organization. He touched on working with REDI over the years as our needs grew and changed, and what an important role they play in our community.
"Redi, throughout that entire time, has been a great support. From the moment we request the resumes, we told them what our goals were, what kind of people we were looking for, onboarding them, teaching them how to work safely, teaching them what the expectations are. When we hit a bump in the road, like you always do, they were there to support us, [help] get over those humps. As our business grew and evolved, they were there to support us with that, too.
"I implore any employers or prospective employers that are in this room or on social media today, to please consider reaching out to REDI. There’s a lot of people in our community that are very capable of doing meaningful work and they need those opportunities. REDI can help with that."
Kevin touched on an exchange he had with a potential Team Member during a first interview and the impact that one interaction has had on him, years later: "At the end of the conversation, I did something I never do, and I offered him the role on the spot. He went on his way, we exchanged numbers and information, said 'we’ll be in touch'. An hour later I got a call from the REDI worker who brought him to the interview. They sat in her car and he was overwhelmed with emotion, that we were going to give him an opportunity. I reflect on those words a lot. Give him an opportunity. Working with him, he takes so much pride in his work. He’s one of the hardest working people I’ve ever worked with. He’s so driven.
"I reflect on those words. We didn’t give him the opportunity, he gave us the opportunity to learn what a truly inclusive and diverse workplace should look like. Anybody out there that shares their experience will tell you the exact same thing."
During the awards portion of the luncheon, Kevin was presented with the Changemaker Award with these words: "Kevin treats all employees as equal, provides multiple coaching sessions and even comes to work on the days when he’s off if his assistance was needed. Kevin does not hesitate to make accommodations when needed, whether it be changes in duties, adjusting schedules, or giving needed time off to support mental health. Kevin’s ability to provide safe spaces to members of his Team has proven to increase mental health, both inside and outside his store. He would never give himself credit, however, time and time again we can see how his support, accountability, and commitment to a healthy workplace has empowered people to move forward with confidence.
"Kevin is truly someone who walks the talk when it comes to inclusion in our community, Congratulations to Kevin on being our first Changemaker."
Congratulations, Kevin! We're so lucky to have you on the South Country Co-op Team!