19-year-old Jonah Kemp blew away his coordinator and trainer with his commitment, personal progression and professional development during his time as an Active in HELL trainee in Newlands, Wellington.
Active in HELL (AiH) is a partnership between HELL Pizza and IHC New Zealand to get young people with intellectual disabilities into paid training in HELL stores around the country. Running since 2013, the initiative has seen more than 150 young Kiwis graduate with newfound skills and life experience.
Jonah, who loves going on long walks, had 12 weeks of training with HELL Newlands– two hours a week – and seriously impressed his manager Ranie Liuanna.
“We saw lots of progression from Jonah. His social confidence grew so much, and his communication was amazing! He made our life so easy.
“Towards the end of his traineeship, he was doing so much more than we expected – we had to find new things to keep his brain ticking.”
Jonah agrees: “It made me more confident to ask for help and to do stuff. I learned to speak to new people a lot better – everyone I worked with was very friendly and supported me a lot.”
On shift, Jonah chopped vegetables and fill sauced pots. He also learned the importance of dressing in the correct clothes, getting to work independently and arriving ready for mahi.
When he struggled, as many people do with new things in a new job, he worked on it at home, in his own time. Ranie says that commitment blew her away.
“A frustrating moment for him was putting on gloves and filling pots, but he took gloves and pots home with him at night so he could practise. He’d chop veggies at home with his mum, because he wanted to get it right – that’s how much it meant to him!
“That showed us how committed he was. It was so great to see him wanting to be better.”
Jonah loved getting paid for his shifts at HELL and wants to save up to buy a Tesla, but for now he’s content with getting public transport.
“I really like going on train and bus trips, it calms me. I like going to Island Bay or looking at the views on the Kapiti Line.”
HELL Newlands interviewed Jonah before giving him the position, an experience that helped him as he continues his employment search.
“I applied for a job with New World Thorndon,” he explains. “If they want to interview me, I’ll feel more confident about it because I’ve already had one.”
Rosie McRobie, Jonah’s Choices NZ facilitator, says she’s noticed a huge difference in him.
“He showed so much growth and initiative. His communication improved so much. For example, he was off sick for a few days and rang the store to let them know.”
Ranie agrees and adds that every member of the Newlands staff has benefited from having Jonah around.
“It’s been great seeing our employees improve their knowledge of working with people with an intellectual disability. We still talk about Jonah nearly every day! He’s had just as big an impact on us because of how much he grew in those 12 weeks, as we had with him.
“Active in HELL participants are the best employees you could ask for. When they come to work, they’re focused and are so ready to do their job.”
Jonah is still looking for new opportunities. If anyone wants a positive, committed, hard-working, loyal employee, they should consider giving Jonah a chance!