Getting your first job is usually a major milestone in your life.
And it’s turning out to be especially meaningful for one young Calgarian, in a workplace that’s truly the cat’s meow.
Nineteen-year-old Mason Politylo starting working in February 2022 at Cafe & Mi, a cat café in the northwest Calgary neighbourhood of Royal Oak.
Politylo, who lives with Down syndrome, provides food and water for the cats, as well as cleaning and sweeping throughout the café.
“It’s just a great experience for him,” said Politylo’s mother Lisa De Haas. “And when Mason comes to the cat café and he gets to work and he does a good job at it, I just see how proud he is.”
Politylo is working at Cafe & Mi as part of his program with Vecova, a Calgary agency that supports people living with disabilities.
“It’s awesome to see so much growth in Mason,” Vecova’s Christina Guilherme said. “Since starting his work experience, he’s become more confident in communicating with new people.”
Among those people are several customers finding comfort with the café’s cats during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s been kind of hard these past couple of years,” customer Meghan Catchpaugh said. “So it’s kind of nice to come out and see some cute little cats.”
Cafe & Mi also helps the animal rescue group that provides the cats find new homes for them.
“Seeing them on the website is one thing,” the Animal Rescue Foundation’s Monika Sipley said. “But if you can come and actually look at them and touch them and play with them, you get more of that experience of what is the personality of the cat — it does help adopt them.”
Cafe & Mi management said Politylo is a great addition to their team.
“It is so important,” manager Sharon Johnson said. “And I think more companies need to take the step and just let persons with disabilities learn some work skills.”