THUNDER BAY – Jessica Williams is excited to go to work every Monday.
Since September, Williams has been working for the Thunder Bay Police Service at the Balmoral Street station.
“I love being here for the opportunity to work with them,” she said with a smile. “Everybody says hi and they love me being here.”
That much is evident watching Williams walk through the halls of the station as she is fondly greeted by everyone she passes.
Thunder Bay Police chief J.P. Levesque says Williams brings cheer to the entire building.
“Jessica has been a wonderful addition to our family here at the police station,” Levesque said. “Jessica lights up the room. She brings a smile to everybody’s face.”
Williams’ employment is the result of a partnership between the city police force and Community Living Thunder Bay.
Community Living Thunder Bay serves about 300 people with intellectual disabilities and enables 100 of them to serve either employment or volunteer roles in the community through partnerships with 50 different organizations.
“Our main goal is to try to assist people to become a full-fledged citizen,” said David Blackwood, director of supports and services. “We want to see the community open up their arms and really include people with intellectual disabilities in a meaningful way.”
The police service has had a partnership with Community Living Thunder Bay dating back more than a decade.
They had been employing a member of the organization for 13 years before she had to give up the position for medical reasons, opening up the door for Williams.
Williams is responsible for collecting documents from across the station to be destroyed. She then takes all of the documents to her work area and shreds them.
The police have long supported those with intellectual disabilities not only through their partnership with the community organization but with their prominent role with Special Olympics Ontario.
Just a couple of months ago the force raised $60,000 through their annual polar bear plunge.
But having the opportunity to bring Williams into their family is something special.
“It’s a nice way to add to the community and give somebody an opportunity to get some meaningful employment,” Levesque said.
“We want to not only seem to be inclusive, we want to be inclusive.”
The highlight for Williams was her first day, which she admitted made her nervous. The chief was ready to make her feel welcome though.
He presented her with a shirt bearing the force’s logo, which she has proudly adopted as her work uniform.
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