Canada's Cleaning Crew creates confidence
When Joy Rushton dreamed up her business in 2005, it wasn't just because she wanted to become an entrepreneur; she wanted to change lives.
As the founder of Canada's Cleaning Crew, a company that is run by and actively hires Deaf, Hard of Hearing and Disabled Canadians for residential, commercial and janitorial services, Rushton's main business goal is to give others a chance to overcome obstacles.
"As a hard of hearing person, I understand first-hand the difficulties faced by persons with hearing loss in finding meaningful and rewarding employment," explains Rushton, who was born with significant hearing loss. "For the longest time my dream was to become a criminologist and to work at the Royal Canadian Mounted Police or Canadian Security Intelligence Service." An Orléans resident for 11 years, Rushton started on that path by first volunteering and then working with the municipal, military and provincial police forces. Overcoming her disability, she then went on to study Criminology at University.
"Unfortunately, I ultimately was not employable because my hearing loss made it very difficult to learn French – a necessary prerequisite to serve in either (organisation)." Rushton did not let the disappointment crush her spirit and continued to apply for hundreds of other jobs in all sorts of fields. Despite being hard working, focused and determined, she says she was never considered a "good candidate" for any job due to her disability.
"These experiences are not unique to me but are mirrored by so many others with hearing loss," she says.
Continuing to persevere, that's when Rushton decided to create her own business and give Disabled people a chance at employment, a chance to build their resumes and to gain confidence in themselves. "Canadians with hearing loss are capable of so much when the barriers are removed," she believes, explaining that with those that have disabilities communication is often the biggest obstacle. Furthermore, the unemployment rate for persons with hearing loss is 1.5 times higher than those without disabilities. In 2012, the maximum Ontario Disability Support Program allowance for a single person is $1,058 per month or $12,700 a year.
Orléans Ward Councillor Bob Monette, who was worked with Rushton to contact the City, the Orléans BIA and the Orléans Chamber of Commerce to raise awareness for her program, agrees that there's a need to raise awareness in the community. "If you help one person, you've achieved a goal."
So far, Rushton says she's helped 10 people with Disabilities gain employment. "There is a lot of cleaning businesses out there, but we're giving back."