On a recent work outing to select produce at a farm in Sonoma, Ada Olmedo had time to reflect on how her life had changed this year. Here she was enjoying idyllic scenery, while garnering work knowledge and feeling part of making a business grow.
This contrasts to January 28th, when Ada’s job quickly ended as a catastrophic fire decimated her employer’s business. There were 36 businesses and 70 employees affected that terrible night that flames shot to the sky at Mission and 22nd streets. (Read our original story on Ada.)
Seeing from where a product comes was a new experience for Ada. This information is valuable in her job at Bi-Rite Market in the Mission.
“Customers call asking questions about our products, so now I can offer them information,” explains Ada.
Robert Lopez, a job coach in MEDA’s free Workforce Development program, connected Ada with this job at Bi-Rite. Lopez knew this was a good fit, as he was aware of the culture at the store. This was definitely the case, as Ada loves the ambience at Bi-Rite, plus enjoys spending five days a week with her managers, co-workers and customers. Ada especially enjoys the benefits she receives—something she has never had at a job before. There is medical, dental and vision coverage. Even a monthly Clipper Card for transportation.
Lopez also knew there would be challenges, but that Ada’s determination would lead her to success. He hoped that good could come out of tragedy.
Bi-Rite’s Front of House Manager Alexandra Mayer was similarly aware of the challenges, as she interviewed Ada and was charged with overseeing a trial shift. Things were admittedly a little rough at first.
The main challenge was the language barrier, as Ada spoke little English. This would inevitably lead to issues in training, with things more difficult to explain to the trainee and Ada not being able to easily ask questions when she was unclear.
The good news? A three-month review was exemplary.
Plus, Mayer just hired another Bi-Rite employee with limited English skills, as she now has a model for how this can work. A model for the Mission as a whole.
“We are complimenting Ada all of the time. She is so humble when we do so. Things get better every day. It’s fun for us to see her blossom. Ada is now part of the Bi-Rite family,” concludes a zealous Mayer.