Published On: 9 October 2023Categories: Stories

Kayla Connelly struggled with classroom pressures at school and TAFE and was battling to find work until she took part in a work-for-the-dole program at the Loaves and Fishes warehouse in Devonport. It changed her life.

Over six months in 2020, the shy, quietly-spoken Devonport woman impressed with her work ethic, hunger to learn, and positive attitude towards coworkers.

The 24-year-old was offered a traineeship in the production kitchen and will graduate in February next year, having already obtained her forklift licence and fulfilled supervisory duties when her boss is away.

She’s been on her first overseas holiday to the US and now has the travel bug.

Kitchen production supervisor Michelle Bourke said Kayla was an “amazing worker” who had grown in confidence and competence in the busy production kitchen.

“She doesn’t complain, she just gets in and does the job and is a fast learner,” Michelle said.

“She has become like a daughter. We’re great mates as well as work colleagues.

Kayla supervises the others when I’m away, teaching them to use the food processor and other aspects of the job.”

The production kitchen makes muffins for the Devonport Chaplaincy school breakfast program, prepares vegetables for the Loaves and Fishes kitchen, helps with catering jobs, and prepares bulk food backs for the School Lunch Program in partnership with School Food Matters.

Kayla, who will graduate next year with a Certificate II in Kitchen Operations, said she loved the work and the people she works with, especially Michelle.

“I left school in 2017 and couldn’t find work,” Kayla said.

“I went to TAFE and got halfway through the Kitchen Operations course but got stressed.

“The job agency suggested working at Loaves and Fishes. I loved it.

“I think I’d still be looking for work if Loaves and Fishes and Michelle hadn’t given me a go.

“I love what I do, couldn’t think of doing anything else, and couldn’t have ever imagined flying to the US to go to LA, Disneyland, Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon.”

Next stop. New York.

By Paul O’Rourke

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