Rachael Sinclair: A Shining Star
We first met Rachael through the VIU Employability Skills program back in the winter of 2012-2013. Rachael and nine other 1st and 2nd year students came to KinPark each week on Thursdays, rain or shine, to shovel manure, pull weeds, shape beds and sow seeds. We were immediately drawn to Rachael’s quirky sense of humour, her generous smile, and her endless enthusiasm. It quickly became apparent that Rachael had an immense creative talent. Imagine making a dress out of a tablecloth or sewing your very own coat without a pattern!
As a second year student in the VIU program in the winter and spring of 2014, Rachael fulfilled her 2nd year work experience by coming to work in CGC’s Garden Pantry Thrift Shop on Tuesday mornings, on top of the regular Thursdays at KinPark. Here she honed her skills in sales, administration, and customer service. Being the face of CGC allowed Rachael the opportunity to greet and assist a variety of people in our community from customers, volunteers, CGC clients and tenants to whoever else might happen through the store day in a given day. Her courteous yet fun nature was a great fit for the front-end of our organization.
In January 2014, Rachael gained even more independence by moving out of home and into one of the suites at The Station. Rachael quickly became our model tenant, promoting the safe and affordable downtown living experience to all those she met. She was even asked to be a guest speaker at CGC’s annual Donor breakfast that February.
Starting in July, CGC was awarded a Neil Squire internship, a wage subsidy program for adults living with a disability. This allowed us to offer Rachael, who had recently graduated with flying colours from VIU, part-time employment. The excitement was mutual!
Since last July, Rachael has been an integral part of the CGC team, working in the store, helping at the urban farm, canning in the kitchen, and shaping the youth and family drop-in through her participation on the YO (Youth Outreach) team. She has helped lead a variety of “crafternoons” (her dream job), assisted with the family cooking classes, and led her own workshops on crocheting and knitting.
While the internship has ended, our relationship with Rachael has not. Rachael will continue to be connected to CGC through the YO team, volunteering at various events and, we hope, continuing to drop by to say hi or join us for a cup of tea on the cob bench. Most of all, Rachael has helped to shift the culture at CGC, helping us to be more inclusive, more diverse and more understanding of different learning styles. She has taught us both the importance of nurturing our creative sides, and, best of all, to be joyful above all else.