Prosper East is a group-based employability skills program which helps unemployed individuals make a successful transition into the labor force. The program offers a five-week group-based classroom component and/or on-going employment coaching and mentoring.
The program targets individuals receiving social assistance and/or disability supports, as well as Employment Development Agency and PEI Association for Newcomers clients.
Prosper East is delivered by The Adventure Group in partnership with the Construction Association of PEI, Tourism Industry Association of PEI, the PEI Agricultural Sector Council, the PEI Department of Family and Human Services, SkillsPEI, and the PEI Association for Newcomers to Canada.
“The Prosper East program provides an opportunity for people who are living on social assistance to gain work experience and develop skill sets, and it provides an introduction to employment,” says Roxanne Carter-Thompson, Executive Director of The Adventure Group.
“It is supporting people to address why they are not working. It also helps look at what they need to do to gain the skill sets to maintain employment and to reach their full potential.
Continuous program referrals come from the PEI Department of Family and Human Services. “We can’t keep up with the demand for referrals to this program from our industry partners. It’s not hard to find employers. There is a waiting list of employers in need of workers in the Prosper program.
“A pilot project last year was deemed very successful,” says Roxanne. “Of 32 participants in the program, more than a dozen landed full-time jobs after the pilot ended.
“The program is putting people back in the workforce. Now that they are on track to full-time employment and they can provide for their families, it will hopefully change their lives.”
About the staff
Marlene Gotell is the Life Skills Facilitator and Coordinator of the Prosper East program. She has a wealth of knowledge and experience working with people with employment barriers.
Kate Gotell is a Job Coach. She works side-by-side with clients and has witnessed the transformation of clients in the program. “One client had always been employed in an office environment. He was unsure about working in farm fields, but at the end of the day he expressed how happy he was to be here. It has been life changing for him.
“The purpose of the program is to help get people to work, so it’s a starting point,” says Kate. “Once working, they receive job coaching for support to get through the hiccups and maintain employment.
“One person might need two months of job coaching support and someone else might need four months of support. Once they have successfully transitioned, they can be on their own.”
Prospect East participant
Lorri Chandler of Charlottetown was employed in the custodial sector for more than 36 years. She became unemployed unexpectedly through no fault of her own.
Her husband became disabled last year and is now unable to work. They have an 11-year-old daughter. Lorri had no choice but to apply for social assistance in May 2018 when her Employment Insurance benefits ended.
The Department of Family and Human Services asked if she would be interested in participating in the Prosper East program. Lorri agreed without hesitation.
“I would rather be working than living on social assistance,” says Lorri, who has been unemployed for 18 months.
The five-week group-based classroom component of the program with the Adventure Group PEI was a positive learning experience for Lorri. “The group ranged in age from 20 to 52,” says Lorri who turned 52 while in the program. “I learned a lot listening to the younger participants and what they are going through. I believe they also learned by hearing about my life experiences.”
Lorri does not having a drivers’ license, which limited her job search to the Charlottetown area. Arrangements were made for her to travel to work at Lorne Valley Ranch in rural Kings County. She knows it’s a short-term position, but her goal is to find full-time employment as a professional cleaner.
“I love working outdoors at Lorne Valley Ranch,” says Lorri. “It’s hard work pulling weeds all day, especially in the hot sun. But I know if I can do this, I can work at anything. I can add the work experience on my resumѐ with a good reference. I would rather be working than be dependent on the system.”
For more information about Prosper East, contact Roxanne Carter-Thompson, Executive Director at 902-393-1337.
A similar program, Prosper West, is offered throughout Prince County by the East Prince Youth Development Centre in Summerside in partnership with the Construction Association of PEI, Tourism Industry Association of PEI, the PEI Agriculture Sector Council, the PEI Department of Family and Human Services, SkillsPEI, and the PEI Association for Newcomers to Canada.
For more information on Prosper West, contact Barb Broome, Executive Director, East Prince Youth Development Centre, at 902-436-2815, or Joyce Newcombe, Program Coordinator/Job Coach, Prosper West Program, at 902-439-0865.
For more information about East Prince Youth Development Centre, visit www.epydc.org.
For more information about www.epydc.org, visit www.adventuregrouppei.ca.
The initiative is funded under the Canada- PEI labour market agreements.