Filling the gap

Raissa Tetanish
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Program helping mature adults enhance skills for workforce

AMHERST - Arnie Marks is the champion to his own success.

The 45-year-old Amherst man finished up a six-week on-the-job training session Friday at the Cumberland Regional Health Care Centre where he was working in environmental services.

Marks is one of nine students to complete a training session through the Cumberland Adult Network for Upgrading's (CAN-U) GAP program.

"They took my life skills and shined them up," said Marks of the program's instructor Ron Furlong and co-ordinator Mike St. Onge. "It's like they dusted off my skills after a lot of years of being on the back burner.

"They taught me a lot of discipline."

Marks said he was given a chance to learn how to take his skills and articulate and use them through the program, calling it a beneficial tool.

A year ago, Marks had approached Glenn Theriault, manager of environmental services with the hospital, for a position in housekeeping.

Theriault said there were some deficiencies in Marks' education that saw him turned down for the job.

"I sent him away with some advice," said Theriault, adding Marks took it to heart and did what he had to do by connecting with the program.

"He took matters into his own hands and was serious enough to do that," Theriault added. "That speaks a lot to his character."

The eight-month program has students learning in a work environment more so than a classroom, and St. Onge said it really is a community effort.

"It takes a community to move forward," he said, noting almost a dozen local businesses stepped up to help out the program.

Along with the Cumberland Health Authority, local organizations included Maggie's Place, Windjammers, Stenek Corporation, Gordon Food Services, Shannex, Victoria Manor, Foodland Springhill, Gables Lodge and CKDH. The Amherst Daily News provided the students with newspapers on a daily basis, which became a part of the curriculum.

The final step for the participants, who finish on March 25, is to create an exit plan outlining a next step strategy.

For Marks, it means completing his GED and nailing his math tests, and re-applying at the hospital and hopefully landing an interview.

"I take it one day at a time," he said. "When I wake up, the glass is half full because I'm above ground. Everything else is a bonus."

Organizations: Cumberland Regional Health Care Centre, Cumberland Adult Network for Upgrading, Cumberland Health Authority Stenek Gordon Food Services Amherst Daily News

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  • Mom Jeans
    March 21, 2011 - 08:57

    I met Arnie a couple of years ago and have admired his attitude and perserverance ever since. I'm sure he will be successful in gaining employment and hopefully he will be an inspiration to others who are hoping to better themselves. Congrats to Arnie and the other GAP participants!