Melanie was getting on with her life as many individuals in their late-twenties do.  She had a good job in retail sales, was contemplating furthering her education and had a solid group of friends and contacts.  One night, her life took a drastic turn when the car she was travelling in struck a roadside lamppost. Melanie sustained an acquired  brain injury (ABI) as a result of the accident.

She describes her challenges with ABI in the following ways: “I become much more easily overwhelmed, concentrating and focusing with distractions around and memorizing unfamiliar information can also seem impossible. Also I have found trouble with sleeping at regular and adequate intervals compromises my ability to function, organize, and consolidate daily thoughts into coherent patterns.”

She was referred to the BC Centre for Ability for assistance in finding employment.  Though she still presents well, is articulate and has a “smile in her voice” she was finding it challenging to locate a job that takes her challenges into account.

Melanie worked closely with Mark Gruenheid of the BCCFA who encouraged her to ease back into the workforce gradually.  She still had interest and ability in customer service but could not easily meet the demands of a job requiring long shifts and continuous multi-tasking.

She made a number of good contacts at a “Connections Work” event featuring 17 member employers.  This resulted in some genuine interest from some companies in the hospitality and tourism industries.  Melanie was subsequently interviewed by the Shangri-La Hotel.

Luisa Gil of the Shangri-La’s Human Resources Department was immediately struck by Melanie’s professional presentation and skills in verbal and written English.  She appeared to be a great candidate and Luisa was willing to look at a reduced hourly schedule for Melanie to re-enter the work force.

Melanie works in the Fitness Centre of the hotel assisting guests, maintaining the facility and preparing food items.  She began working one or two short shifts a week and is slowly building her hours.  The Shangri-La Hotel has been very supportive in making sure that Melanie’s transition back to work is a successful one.

In Melanie’s words: “I am fortunate to have an employer that accepts the assisted abilities and misgivings that I present to them and chooses to focus primarily on the contributions and abilities that I do have to offer them!”  Melanie also volunteers as a member of the Abilities in Mind (AIM) advisory board here at the BC Centre for Ability.