Client Stories

AGM Success Stories
Arazo Bayat – ES Christina Kumafo

When Arazo first came to Leads, she wanted to be a Hair Stylist, but with the tough competition for apprenticeships and Arazo’s social anxiety, she felt like it was an almost insurmountable goal.
But today, Arazo feels great. With the support of her manager, Kelly Schmitchen, and her Leads Employment Specialist, Christina Kumafo, Arazo is currently completing the first year of her apprenticeship at Smart Style. “Yes, I no longer feel useless,” she exclaims, noting her appreciation for the ongoing job supports provided by Leads. “I still have Christina helping me, answering my questions, coming to the salon when I need.”
With excitement, Arazo talks about her work:
“My co-workers are great; [we] get along well. It feels like another home; it doesn’t feel like work. I’ve learned new techniques, worked more with women’s hair; I’ve got to know inches when cutting hair, I’m better at money counting – I’m no longer using a calculator to count the money! I’m also making transactions and selling products to customers. I was anxious and fearful at first, but now I’m able to communicate with people with ease…”
Arazo is looking forward to being able to help her parents financially if needed, while also “saving and purchasing her first cellphone!”

AGM Success Stories
Spencer Kopala
– ES Yasmeen Omar

In spite of a multitude of barriers, including anxiety, a social communication disorder and a learning disability, Spencer earned a diploma in bookkeeping from Fanshawe College. Taking the next step, however, was another story. “I felt uncertain and had no plans after college,” Spencer explained. “I had no idea where I would end up. I didn’t know where to look for employment, or how to obtain employment, and I couldn’t even get past the resume stage for an interview.”
That’s when Spencer applied for services at Leads. While Spencer attended a variety of skills development workshops, Leads’ Employment Specialists, Yasmeen Omar and Christina Kumafo, created a position at No Frills that allowed Spencer to enter the workforce and begin to make use of his growing skillset. As he explains, Spencer’s experience at Leads had far-reaching impacts:
“Since coming to Leads, and working with Yasmeen and Christina I’ve become more responsible and dependable, not only at work, but personally! I’m able to contribute financially at home, and I’m looking forward to the future. Through employment at No Frills, I’ve become more physically fit, more outgoing, and I have far better communication skills than before. Financial independence has given me the opportunity to buy things, knowing that I worked hard and it feels good to reward myself. I’m proud of myself now!”
Spencer talks about his future:
“The future looks good,” Spencer states, “I have a job that I enjoy, and hope to keep while I gain skills and experience for advancement. I look forward to coming into work, and I’m happy to be using my training from school. I’m more comfortable meeting new people, and find it easier to talk to them than I did before coming to Leads.”

AGM Success Stories
Diana Hexter – ES Christina Kumafo

Each day, Diana battles with social anxiety. It looked like her job search at Leads would come to an unsuccessful conclusion when she unexpectedly broke her leg. Throughout Diana’s recovery, however, the team at Leads remained connected. “I love my team! I wish I knew about Leads a long time ago,” Diana said; “If it wasn’t for you guys finding all the opportunities, I would’ve still been looking for a job.” With help from her Employment Specialist, Christina Kumafo, Diana ultimately secured a position at GDI Cleaning.

Work has changed Diana’ life. She’s lost weight, she’s moved to a “nicer and safer apartment,” and she’s saving money to put towards her goal of purchasing a home. Diana says that she likes her colleagues at work and is “more social than before.” “I don’t hide behind things” she says. She’s also connected to her community, helping out those who are less fortunate. For example, she “give[s] food to the homeless after each shift instead of throwing it out.”

Diana speaks about the meaning of work:
When asked what work means to her, Diana said, “this job has given me the opportunity to continue pushing towards my goals.”

July 11, 2019

Employment and Skills Development Canada’s
Youth Employment and Skills Program

Letter of Support for Leads Employment Services - OPTIONS

In 2019, I participated in the Options Program at Leads Employment Services and It is my pleasure to provide this letter of support for this program and it’s genuinely compassionate and welcoming staff.

During my time there, I had the chance to meet great people, participate in engaging team exercises and learn from some of the most intelligent and relatable people that I have had the privilege to meet. The environment at first, was a little overwhelming since one of my personal barriers is my mental health. Mainly anxiety. It can feel like an undefeatable monster at times. Even under these extremely diverse circumstances, the staff was excellent at figuring out how to engage a wide range of individuals all with their own personal barriers. I was beyond surprised and impressed as I slowly realized how comfortable I became and how I actually started to look forward to waking up to attend the group. The activities not only got me engaged in the group but also in the community. It made me feel like I had a larger purpose here. That I was a part of something genuinely special.
In addition to the great staff and people, I also had the chance to grow and self-reflect to define where I want to be and, in a way, who I want to be. I became more comfortable and confident in interviews, learned about food and health safety, received my smart serve, became more educated in psychology and personality traits, recognizing where my strengths and weaknesses lie. All this, on top of a multitude of other things, helped me learn and grow as an individual as well as a member of society.
I found an interest in automotive, which is something I never thought would interest me. They helped me expand my horizons and now, thanks to this program and the individuals facilitating it, I have had the opportunity to get a foot in the door in this field. I, now, work at a Mr. Lube. Just passed my 3-month probational period and I absolutely love it here. I fit in with the people and I love the work. I learn something on a daily basis and I get to help other people in the process.
As a result, I am very pleased to recommend Leads in their application for the OPTIONS Program funded through the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy.

Paul A. Pierce Jr.