Access Work Service started as an innovation project funded by the Ministry of Community and Social Services in 2008.
Inspiration from its founder, Ilda Furtado, developed and fostered an idea to promote work opportunities beyond those typically found in rural communities.
On April 15, 2011, Access Work Service incorporated as a non-profit organization, governed by a volunteer board of directors. The founding board members of Access Work Service were: Jim Mahaffy, Karen Richardson, Jo-Anne Pacquette, and David Archer.
In September, 2011, AWS moved into an office at the Opeongo Seniors Centre, meeting the needs of staff and the board. Access Work Service operates in Barry’s Bay.
Historically, Access Work Service was started to fill the needs of job creation in rural settings, and the need for supported employment in developing a paid labour force of disabled individuals. Our mandate now includes serving the unemployed who face a variety of challenges and barriers to employment.
In 2018, grant recipient from Ontario Trillium Foundation to replicate a proven effective employment program to secure long-term real-world employment for persons with disabilities and related barriers in Barry’s Bay and surrounding townships. Leveraging OTF funds to replicate the proven Customized Employment model locally, to ensure that more disabled Ontarians will become meaningfully employed, and retain their jobs for the long term.
On Thursday, April 15/2021 the Ontario Trillium Foundation announced the second round of Resilient Communities Fund grants to support rebuilding capacity of non-profits across Ontario. Our organization, was awarded a Resilient Communities Fund grant over 6 months, to rebuild and recover from impacts of COVID-19 by purchasing health and safety equipment, cellphones, laptops and iPads, cubicles, furniture, filing cabinets to pivot in-person programs to online delivery, enabling staff to work remotely, and updating office space for new distancing protocols.
A key component in the success of AWS has been the establishment of a temporary work force, and providing various services to the community for those who appreciate the help. Services range from lawn maintenance, home, and office cleaning, to providing temporary relief to employers and their business needs. In turn, Access Work Service provides jobs to those in the community who face challenges and barriers to employment.
With continued community support and participation, the future for rural work creation remains positive.
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