Peter Richmond receives award for employing people with diverse abilities

Peter Richmond of the 49th Parallel Grocery in Ladysmith won a Community Living BC Widening Our World Award Dec. 4.

Amy McMillan and Peter Richmond share some of their favourite moments from the 49th Parallel Grocery staff Christmas party during an awards ceremony Dec. 4 at the store. McMillan nominated Richmond for a Community Living BC Widening Our World Award

Amy McMillan has worked for 49th Parallel Grocery in Ladysmith for six years, and last week, she had a chance to honour her boss, Peter Richmond.

Richmond, president of 49th Parallel Grocery, was recognized Dec. 4 for embracing inclusion and helping adults with developmental disabilities have a greater sense of community and belonging in their workplace through Community Living BC (CLBC)’s fourth annual Widening Our World (WOW) Awards.

Five employees from different regions of the province were chosen from more than 100 nominees, and Richmond was the winner for Vancouver Island from 11 Wow Award nominees for the region.

Nominations of inclusive employers or co-workers were submitted by self-advocates throughout Community Living Month in October.

McMillan nominated Richmond for the award, and he was chosen by an independent panel as the most inclusive employer on Vancouver Island.

“Peter is a great guy and fun to work with,” she said in her nomination. “He is always nice to me, is funny and helps me to learn how to do new and different things at work. That’s Peter — you can’t do without him.”

This is the fifth year of the Wow Awards, and this year, the awards were launched during Community Living Month in October and focused on community leaders supporting inclusive employment opportunities for adults with developmental disabilities.

Michael McLellan, a self-advocate who works for CLBC, presented the Wow Award to Richmond.

“This year, with the theme of employment, it’s been one of the neatest things that ever happened,” he said. “We would like to thank Peter for being such an inclusive employer to people with diverse abilities. It’s an honour to present this award to you on behalf of the Widening Our World Awards and CLBC, and I feel it’s nice to see another employer hiring people with diverse abilities.”

McLellan also presented a card to McMillan and to Richmond.

Richmond was honoured to receive the award.

“It was quite a surprise to me to be nominated by Amy,” he said. “Amy’s been working for us for six years, and it’s been a wonderful six years. I want to thank Tina Fabbro [program co-ordinator for Community Link Connexions Inc.] for all the great work she does in the community; none of this would be possible without the tireless work of Tina and finding great matches like this. Amy’s been a great fit for us. It’s been fun to watch her grow with the 49th. I was talking to some of her co-workers today, and they are amazed at how Amy is learning more and more all the time, and she’s a very valued employee. Amy comes to work every day with a smile on her face and ready to do her job.”

Richmond says the 49th Parellel hasn’t been a perfect employer, and there have been issues that McMillan has brought up, but she always handled herself “amazingly well.”

“We’re very proud of how Amy has grown with us and very proud to have you as an employee,” he said.

When Richmond told McMillan he wanted to share the award with her, she told him that award belongs to him and he should keep it.

“You deserve this award more than I do,” she said.

McMillan says Richmond “is No. 1 all the way.”

“He is the kind of guy who always teaches me the ropes at 49th Parallel,” she said. “Every time I hear the word Peter Richmond’s name, he knows anything when it comes to greeting people with a smile. He knows how I do it, and I know he does it way better than anyone in the world besides the Richmond family.

Richmond has also been acknowledged in the past as one of the 12 Ladysmith employers who has received a Diversity@Work designation.

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