Annie Stanyer has been with Gumtree Catering for six years now, the longest workplace she’s ever been at, and continues to enjoy her job. ({Photo submitted)

Vernon catering employee’s independence continues to grow

Annie Stanyer is a success story of WorkBC’s Opportunities Fund

Plates squeak underhand, as Annie Stanyer scrubs off the remains of the day. Standing at the industrial-sized sink, she works methodically and quickly, making sure the cutlery, dishes, pots and pans sparkle.

Stanyer smiles at the thought of how much her life has changed for the better since she started working as a baker’s helper and dishwasher at Gumtree Catering six years ago.

Not only has she taken on other duties, including dishwashing at Gumtree’s staff-only café at Kal Tire headquarters, but she has also moved into a self-contained suite near Okanagan College, which is closer to work, and has embarked on new adventures.

“Gumtree is the longest workplace I have ever worked, and I am still enjoying it. I have become more independent and have gained more confidence. I also like dishwashing. People say I am a faster dishwasher than everyone else,” Stanyer said with a laugh.

A Giant Leap Forward

Before starting at Gumtree, Stanyer was at a crossroads. Born with a learning disability, she later moved to Vernon from Vancouver and had just lost the woman — her aunt — who had raised both her and her sister. She lived in shared accommodations, worked in a fast-food restaurant, and knew she wanted to do more with her life.

That’s when she decided to seek help from WorkBC Vernon. Assigned to employment advisor Anita Labelle, who helps adults with disabilities find work, Stanyer was able to access meaningful employment through the Opportunities Fund, which provides financial support to business owners who employ people with diverse abilities.

Gumtree was willing to take a chance on Annie, and the rest is history.

“Annie has become an integral part of the Gumtree family,” Stanyer’s employer Sarah Pruckl said. “She is always willing to try new tasks and does it with a smile. She’s friendly and hardworking.”

The Road to Independence

Stanyer’s confidence has also spilled into other avenues.

“Years ago, I told Annie she should go on a cruise and she took that idea, saved the money, and went on her first big travel adventure and that put the travel bug in her. She had another cruise booked for this fall, which has been cancelled, but I loved seeing her determination to research and plan her trips and share her stories with us,” Pruckl said.

For Stanyer, travel was always something she wanted to do, but she didn’t feel she was ready until three years ago, when she embarked on her first solo adventure, travelling more than 3,500 kilometres by Greyhound bus from Salmon Arm to Toronto.

“I grew up in Vancouver and always dreamt about going to Toronto,” said Stanyer, who travelled back to the city by plane two years ago. “I was able to save up enough money for the trips and stayed at a hostel in the city. The first time I took public transit out to the zoo and the second time, I was able to go to the CNE (Canadian National Exhibition).”

Last year, Stanyer boarded her first cruise, sailing from Vancouver through the Inside Passage to Alaska.

“People say I am brave for travelling on my own, but I do a lot of research before I go, and I have schedules and know where I am staying,” she said, noting she has met many people while travelling.

“While on the Alaskan Cruise, I went to see these two piano players perform, and a group of people there asked if I was by myself. It turned out they were from Kamloops. I ended up sitting with them every night to watch the piano players.”

Stanyer is planning her next adventures once it is safe to travel.

“I hope to get to London, Seattle, and New York next,” she said.

If you or someone you know is looking for employment opportunities for people with different abilities, reach out to WorkBC Employment Services in Vernon for employment counselling, specialized services, and more.



roger@vernonmorningstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Neil Fassina will become the new president of Okanagan College on April 1, 2021. (Contributed)
Okanagan College recruits new president

Current Athabasca University president Neil Fassina to replace Jim Hamilton on April 1, 2021

COVID-19. (Courtesy of CDC).
Interior Health reports 12 additional COVID-19 cases

The total number of cases in the region is now at 644

The Community Foundation has teamed with the Canadian Mental Health Association and horse-assisted therapists to bring horse therapy to frontline worker battling the COVID-19 pandemic free of charge. (Contributed)
Okanagan organization says ‘thanks’ to COVID-19 frontline workers with complimentary horse therapy

Community Foundation teams with CMHA and equine therapists to offer unique mental health supports

A new walking path is the latest improvement at Vernon’s popular Sandy Beach. (RDNO photo)
New walkway added to Vernon’s Sandy Beach

The walking path is the latest improvement following an agreement between the regional district and OKIB

The Vernon School District reports 95 per cent of its students have returned to classrooms amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Jennifer Smith - Vernon Morning Star)
Fewer local, more international students help cover Vernon School District’s $1.2M enrolment deficit

School district projected 13 fee-paying international students; 43 enrolled

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Colin James put on a great show at the Comox Valley Exhibition Grounds as part of the 2019 Vancouver Island MusicFest. But his Okanagan tour for 2020 has been postponed until 2021. (Photo by Terry Farrell)
COVID-19 cancels Corb Lund’s Vernon, Penticton, Trail, Cranbrook concerts

The Contenders, Colin James and Lund postponed until 2021

RCMP detachments across B.C. are now flying Pride flags. (Submitted photo)
Man who spent 4 days injured on floor rescued by Kamloops Mountie

The man is recovering in hospital after being rescued by a police officer conducting a well-being check

Vancouver police reactivated the search for Jordan Naterer Thursday Oct. 22. Photo courtesy of VPD.
Mom of missing Manning Park hiker believes her son is waiting to come home

‘He’s going to come out of a helicopter and say ‘what took you so long?”

Environment Minister George Heyman, Premier John Horgan and Energy Minister Michelle Mungall announce that B.C. Hydro is proceeding with construction of the Site C dam, Dec. 11, 2017. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
Site C actions, costs won’t be known until after B.C. election, Horgan says

Peace River diverted for construction of reinforced dam base

Five people with alleged ties to the Red Scorpion Gang are facing numerous charges. (Kelowna RCMP)
5 men linked to Red Scorpion gang charged with gun, drug offences in Kelowna

Police seized a machine gun as well as 5.5 kilograms of fentanyl and carfentanil

One of the squirrels who ended up having their tails amputated after getting them stuck together with tree sap. (Facebook/Wild ARC)
Squirrels recovering from tail amputation after sap situation near Victoria

BC SPCA Wild ARC says squirrels will be released back into wild, fifth sibling was euthanized

With snow already on the ground, preparations are underway to welcome back guests at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort for the winter season. (KHMR photo)
Kicking Horse Mountain Resort announces COVID procedures

The resort is set to open on Dec. 11.

Most Read