BEST program gaining steam


‘Fair pay for a fair day’s work’
Monday July 18, 2011 — Kristian Partington

For Steve Withrington, manager of the Burnaby Association for Community Inclusion’s (BACI) employment services and training (BEST) program, work has been a flurry of activity in the past few months.

It’s a good kind of busy, though, and he’s excited by what’s been happening as individuals supported through the service are mapping out their vision for their ideal work, and some are finding success.

“What we’re always aiming for is fair pay for a fair day’s work,” Steve says, and some successes jump to mind when he considers how that philosophy is panning out these days.

This past spring, about 10 people supported through the program attended a job fair for the experience and of course, with hope of possibly entering the world of employment.

From that day came some notable successes, Steve says.

About eight weeks after the fair, for example, an individual was invited to a competitive interview with the Home Depot.

“This isn’t charity,” says Steve. “This is a fully competitive process, and he was invited for one interview, then a second and finally, a third, before he was hired on.”

He now works 12 hours a week and he’s making friends in an entirely new social network.

“His job is his focus now,” says Steve, clearly proud to note that this individual simply pops by the BEST once in a while to say hello these days, and not for any programs or supports.

A similar story came from the job fair, though it began with a short contract for a fellow who was simply hoping to gain some work experience to boost his resumé.

He’s passionate about sports, so the retail store Game on Sports was in his sights. He was brought on with the intention of his work experience coming through a four-to-six-week contract with no expectation of extension.

He proved himself, however, and he’s now taking regular shifts at the store and couldn’t be happier.

One gets the sense that Steve feels the same way when he discusses these successes.

“We’ve barely scratched the surface; we’re just getting started,” he says.

If you have a story related to employment or economic inclusion, fell free to contact 800-294-0051, ext. 24, or e-mail kristian(at)


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