December 01 2019
“At age 5, I was diagnosed with cancer”, signs Nathan to his friend and interpreter, Melissa. Melissa pays apt attention to Nathan, listening to his story then repeats it back to me. She then carefully watches my lips as I ask her the next question, “How is his health now?”
Cancer was to become a repetitive pattern for the duration of Nathans childhood, I learn, as he would go into remission and then it would come back again two years later and then again a year after that.
Nathan underwent chemotherapy and experienced his hair falling out, but felt that cancer treatment helped a lot more. In 1995 he was given a full blood transfusion and things started to get better. He clearly remembers being deemed cancer free on July 3rd, 1995.
As an adult he stills gets checked faithfully every year and is happy to share that all is well. He is healthy. “I like to play ball hockey, as the goalie” he beams. This has been one of his favourite pastimes for many years now.
As a HOPE House community member, Nathan serendipitously connected with Jeanne, a volunteer, through a mutual friend. Jeanne, in turn, encouraged Nathan to also volunteer. For over a year Nathan volunteered in our Food Market, loading and unloading the HOPE in Motion van, stocking shelves, breaking down boxes, taking inventory and more.
Jackie, our Gift in Kind Coordinator, noted that these everyday responsibilities translated into employable skills. “I saw Nathan showing up everyday, working hard, doing a good job, very flexible.I would ask could you do this and he would, open to every task.”
“deaf people are very focused, they are not talking to people, they are working.”
“I saw that he was doing the same work as the people at the grocery store,” Jackie continues, “I thought why not offer that to him and see if he’s interested”.
Jackie set up an interview at a local grocery store. Nathan went and, though the interviewer expressed being nervous about communicating with Nathan, with the help of Melissa, his interview went extraordinarily well. To access training videos Nathan went to the Canadian Human Society with Employment and an employee counselor assisted him by interpreting the videos. Within approximately 2 months from the interview date Nathan started working. Now he’s celebrating that his employer is learning a little sign language at the grocery store! Nathan also shares that, though the job is more challenging due to scheduling and restrictions, he’s enjoying his job. “He’s in the money now” grins Melissa.