The Cabana – Waubuno Beach, Parry Sound

The Cabana – Waubuno Beach, Parry Sound
Waubuno Beach Cabana – A Unique Georgian Bay Treasure

There are many treasures along the shores of Georgian Bay and Waubuno Beach in Parry Sound holds one of them. The Cabana may seem like a typical canteen-style snack bar, but it offers much more than just a service to beachgoers; it offers unique opportunities for employees.

Once operated under other names by various community entrepreneurs, the Waubuno Beach Canteen was reopened under the Cabana name with a renewed purpose. Community Living Parry Sound (CLPS), in partnership with the Town of Parry Sound and with funding support from the Ministry of Community and Social Services, created a unique opportunity for students who experience barriers to obtaining competitive employment. These students are employed as staff with a specific focus on learning the skills that they will need to be successfully employed in the community. The Cabana is a creative way to support students to be a visible part of the community and build on their skills with future educational or employment goals in mind. The only criterion for landing a position at the Cabana is that applicants must be facing barriers to obtaining competitive employment. Applicants do not have to be receiving services from CLPS.

The Cabana and its employees have seen great success. It has employed approximately thirty student staff and nine college or university summer student supervisors. Operations are overseen by CLPS full-time staff and the Director of Community Development and Inclusion, Brad Horne. At least five student staff have moved on to community employment positions; others have returned to school.

The hiring process is about as typical as it gets. Students are offered a chance to apply in late spring for hiring before the annual seasonal opening date of the Victoria Day weekend. Students can access support to develop resumes and practice interview skills through community employment service agencies, CLPS Transitional Youth Services or the Leading Into New Careers (LINC) program. Once hired, students attend a mandatory orientation session which covers administrative and performance expectations. It also identifies the expectation that each student will participate in a training and evaluation process in an effort to facilitate and record learning. Students are offered flexible and individualized hours of employment to meet their needs and abilities.

The training and evaluation plans have evolved with staff learning over the years. Beginning with a basic common goal identification and assessment, they have moved into person-directed employment plans that are very individualized and focussed on the student’s unique future educational or employment goals. They address more than just employment, using the information offered by the learning experiences at the Cabana to identify future action steps.

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