Opal Taylor

The Turning Point Transition from School Service works with ORS funded students in their last year of schooling.

In February 2018 Havelock North High School SENCO (Special Educational Needs Coordinator) Bethne Hocquard (now retired) contacted DRC living life connected and advised that as we were their provider of choice, they had a few students that required access to the Transition Service we deliver.

One of these pupils was Opal. Opal was ready to leave school at the end of 2018 when she would be 18 years old. She was very sure she wanted to work in hospitality (kitchen hand/cleaning rather than being in front of house roles).

As part of the Transition Service, Opal visited some Vocational Services in the community and joined in on planned activities. Although she enjoyed her visits with Earth Gardens (kitchen work/gardens, etc) and DRC’s Turning Point Community Services Programme (which included Mini Golf, socialisation with others of similar age, 10-pin bowling and some ping pong/foosball), it soon became evident that she was more interested in obtaining work, so we organised some work experience for her with our support.

Opal initially did some work experience with the Chef and kitchen team in Scenic Hotel Te Pania. Opal was a quick learner and seemed to really enjoy the experience. Transport was an issue however, as Opal lives with her Aunt and Uncle in Whakatu.

opalWe also arranged some work experiences closer to home which included in the kitchens at Voguehaven Rest Home in Clive and at Zepplin’s Café also in Clive. Opal really liked her experience at Voguehaven in particular, and she was interested in investigating working with the elderly also. She did some job shadowing with Care Associate staff and assisted them with making beds, cleaning rooms and catering morning/afternoon teas/lunches and also assisted with their activities programme.

Opal continued to do work experience at Voguehaven every Saturday in an unpaid capacity. Feedback from her employer (Wendy, Director of Voguehaven Rest Home) was “Opal was very shy and quiet at the beginning and now has come out of herself. Opal is kind and caring towards the residents… We have enjoyed having Opal with us.”

In November 2018 a staff member resigned from the Rest Home leaving a position vacant. Shortly after this Opal was taken on as a permanent employee (part-time) in paid employment and still works there today.