Kerrie is peeling apples with two other supported employees at the Seasons Kitchen in Rosebud. All supported employees are smiling and wearing black hats and blue gloves.

“I got paid for the first time in 20 years!”

Vision impairment hasn’t stopped Kerrie from finding meaningful employment at genU’s Seasons Kitchen. The Rosebud resident, who is legally blind, has found a workplace where she feels valued, supported and part of a family.

“I got paid for the first time in 20 years! It was fantastic and very rewarding,” Kerrie said.

“I had found it so hard to find work as no one would employ me with no vision and a dog to accommodate.”

Kerrie’s life changed when she started going blind at 40. By age 55, she had completely lost her vision.

“I had been working in administration and had done lots of courses…so I did years of volunteer work.”

Then she came across an Expressions of Interest form for supported employment at genU’s Business Enterprises last year. Now she is a highly valued member of the Season’s Kitchen team and loving her role.

“The best parts are peeling and batching with all the jars and polishing them…I just love what I’m doing,” Kerrie said. “They are always telling me to slow down as I go too fast for them!”

Kerrie’s previous volunteer experience has also come in handy.

“Because of my op shop experience, they discovered I knew how to fold clothes and get other jobs done,” she said.

“There is heaps of variety, so in a day, I might do six or seven different roles. We’re working together to do everything and I’m doing things that I’ve never done before.”

Kerrie said working with other people with disability as part of genU’s supported employment team has boosted her confidence and skills.

“I would never have used anything in the kitchen before as I would have been too scared to, but now I can!” she said. “I am very confident.”

genU Business Enterprises Manager, Mary Maqueda said Kerrie brings “a positive vibe” to the kitchen.

“Kerrie spreads that amongst others in the team,” Mary said. “She understands that we’re a business with deadlines and customers and has that willingness to work with others and get things done.”

Kerrie encourages other people with disability to join the genU Supported Employment team for paid employment.

“They treat me like family – I love it,” she said.

“We’re all human and it doesn’t matter what disability you have. We should be accepted and be able to get a fair go and show what we can do.”

‘We’re one big happy family.”

If you live with disability and are wondering what’s next, supported employment is a great way to get into the workforce.

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