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Marystown’s Michael Bonnell says employment gives him a sense of freedom

Michael Bonnell is no stranger to the corridors of Keyin College in Marystown where he works evenings as a custodian.
Michael Bonnell is no stranger to the corridors of Keyin College in Marystown where he works evenings as a custodian. - Colin Farrell

For some, a job is a means of getting by — making sure the bills are paid and there’s food on the table, but for some, it is much more than that.

“It’s nice to have a job to give you your independence,” said Michael Bonnell of Marystown, who is celebrating his 20th year of employment with Keyin College.

“It’s nice to get out of the house and see people,” he told The Southern Gazette.

Bonnell started his employment with the college through a placement with the Burin-Marystown Training & Employment Board, which works with people with disabilities to help them find meaningful employment

“I graduated in (19)98, June, and I came here in (19)99 (in) February,” he explained.

Bonnell is appreciative of businesses and organizations like Keyin College that are willing to hire persons with disabilities.

“It’s harder for us to get work, because if you (some employers) sees anything on a resume that details a worker is included (as someone with a disability) your file is closed, because it is too much of a hassle for some businesses to say, ‘Well, why not give him a chance,’” he said.

Bonnell works as a custodian at the college with the assistance of a support worker.

He said if it weren’t for the roles played by both Keyin College and the Training & Employment Board, he would not be reaching a milestone in his employment.

“I guess I’d be home like a lot of the other individuals waiting for work,” he explained. “There’s a lot (of people with disabilities) out there now that is unemployed, and they said time is long.”

When he is not busy ensuring floors at the college are clean, and the whiteboards are ready for the following days' lesson, Bonnell likes to relax by taking in a hockey game at the local rink or working with computers, “and just fooling around on Facebook.”

More than a job

Keyin College principal Loretta Lewis said Bonnell’s employment requires him to work evenings, but he is also very active in events during the school day.

“If we do an anti-bullying day, Michael shows up in his pink t-shirt,” she said. “Anything we do as a community partner Michael is included — he’s just not our custodian and we feel that is very important.”

Lewis added that though hiring a person with a disability who may require a support worker, it creates an opportunity for employment for two members of the community.

Lewis said she can sense the pride Bonnell takes in his work and in the school community.

“If Michael gets a Keyin t-shirt it’s nothing to compare (to) how proud he is,” she said.

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