S^yowah helps clients find the clothing they need for their future employment.

Working Gear volunteer, S^yowah (Timothy James Elijah)

Working Gear is run almost entirely by a team of generous-hearted volunteers. Individually and together, they make a big contribution to the organization and to the lives of Working Gear’s clients.

One of Working Gear’s newest volunteers is S^yowah (Timothy James Elijah), founder and director of Buffalo Heart Medicine Healing Society. He is Onyota’a:ká from the Oneida of the Thames First Nation from a specific Bear Clan Family.

Working Gear recently donated items to All My Relations, a program S^yowah is involved with that helps Indigenous people living with addiction. Seeing the positive work that Working Gear does in his community – and already familiar with the organization in his previous role as a career development practitioner – S^yowah wanted to give back by joining Working Gear’s volunteer program.

S^yowah works directly with clients, or as he likes to call them, participants, to help them find the clothing they need for their future employment. But to him, the volunteer position is about more than just finding the right fitting shirt or boots – he also wants to make sure participants leave with a renewed sense of purpose and self-worth.

“It takes a lot of courage to say I need help,” says S^yowah. “When participants walk through our doors, they are often nervous and unsure. I see my role not simply as providing them with clothing, but to help them realise that they have a right to be here and that they deserve to have a bright future in the working world.”

Despite how many volunteer shifts he works, S^yowah is always amazed at the change he sees in the participants. “I see them transform in just 20 minutes and leave with a smile and the confidence to go and get the job,“ he explains. “That’s what Working Gear is all about and that’s why I keep coming back.”

Working Gear needs your support so volunteers like S^yowah can continue to lend a helping hand. Your donation will help ensure the shelves at Working Gear are stocked and ready for our clients so we can continue to break down barriers to employment.

Are you inspired by S^yowah’s story? Contact Sarah Beley at info@workinggear.ca to learn about our volunteer program.

The All My Relations team (S^yowah far right)