Clean Works offers a fresh start

January 08
By Sean Meyer
Barry Ellis was looking to make a change and fate would take him to just the place to gain the skills he needed to find not only the success he was looking for, but would eventually make him a regular visitor to Innovation Works.
Back in November, Barry began working as a cleaner at Innovation Works, placed through Clean Works, which is a division of Pathways Skill Development & Placement Centre. Barry went through Clean Works’ eight-week program and came away with an all-new skill set he could use to find work.
Barry admits he was surprised by what he discovered after enrolling with Clean Works.
“I’m not sure what I was expecting when I went in, but it wasn’t what I found. The people who work at Pathways genuinely care about the people taking their programs,” he said. “It was Pathways that really got me going again, got me out of my slump, got me seeing the light at the end of the tunnel again. For some reason, I was expecting a lot of attitude, but it wasn’t that at all. I would recommend it to anyone who is struggling right now.”
Barry said completing the Clean Works program gave him the confidence to go out and find work, but it also gave him back the sense of routine that can be lost after someone has been stagnant in their career for a while.
Brian Stickle, who has nearly 25 years in the cleaning business and is the Clean Works operations lead, wholeheartedly agrees with Barry.
Cleans Works, Brian explains, was started as a means to place some of the people who go through the property maintenance training program at Pathways. The program works with many different partners around the city to employ their graduates, but Brain — who is in his fifth year with Clean Works — said the organization was created because Pathways officials decided it was responsible to have their own way to place their graduates as well.
To date, more than 115 people have gone through Clean Works program.
“I think it’s a significant contribution to the community,” Brian said. “This opportunity was unique. You are helping some people with challenges and obstacles to finding work. It’s truly fulfilling to be part of that process.”
As a former police officer, Barry said he has always had “a vested interest in community.”
From his perspective, it doesn’t get any more vested than what Pathways offers to those looking for a fresh start.
The property maintenance training program includes a co-op placement component, one that in Barry’s case led to a full-time job.
However, when the position at Innovation Works came available, he jumped at it.
That said, the task in front of him was somewhat intimidating. After all, Barry has to clean the whole building with a set number of tasks that need to be done over the course of his shift. 
From cleaning the washrooms to disinfecting phones and everything in between, it took time for Barry to figure out a routine that worked.
“I was overwhelmed a bit at first. It took about a week to get a system going. There are a lot of things we do every night. It’s a big job,” Barry said. “The thing is, rewarding doesn’t even touch on it. I really enjoy being here. There is so much that needs to get done. I have my system down now, which seems to be the best way. Now, it’s all smooth; I soon figured it out.”
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