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HOW WE CARE: Find your Custom Fit with Nelson CARES

Custom Fit Inclusion and Employment Services has operated for 30 years
The CFIT team. Top row L-R: Dana Seagram, Lillian Schoeber, Zhenia Salikin, Erin Shippy. Bottom row: Alex DeSousa, Evelien Dansercoer, Anisa Farhangi, Amos Tanguay. Missing: Alex Cormier, Jaymes Bowman, Harsh Vardan, Carrie Clark, Sara Underwood, Shari Starling. Photo: Submitted

Submitted by Nelson CARES

A big part of Nelson CARES’ heart can easily be found in the offices of Custom Fit Inclusion and Employment Services (CFIT) located at Hall Street Place.

Thirty years ago CFIT, then called the Supported Employment Program, was focused solely on employment services. In 2015, it underwent a complete revamp and rebrand to grow into the program it is today.

Currently, it offers employment, outreach, and community inclusion services to more than 50 people with diverse abilities who live within the community.

Employment services include counselling, job development, site training and support. The CFIT team uses a process of discovery to identify a job seeker’s skills, abilities and preferences, and then partners with local employers to determine how to meet their business needs best.

Outreach provides regular visits to teach and assist with independent living skills such as cooking, cleaning, home maintenance, budgeting, organization and safety.

Community inclusion offers small group and individualized activities in life skills enhancement, health, education, volunteering, social connectivity and belonging, and recreation.

Group community inclusion works on making connections within and between individuals, and consists of ongoing dances, movie nights, karaoke, Dungeons & Dragons, and other group activities.

The CFIT program puts into tangible action the vision of Nelson CARES Society: A healthy and inclusive community where complete respect for all individuals is an ordinary, everyday occurrence.

Custom Fit programming meets people where they are at where services are guided by the individual accessing CFIT support. A person-centred plan is developed with the individual to help them set goals. The needs and goals of each person vary, so the CFIT process and plan will be unique for each and every client.

“Seeing folks realize their goals, in some cases, can be life changing,” says CFIT program manager Zhenia Salikin.

“It is a real privilege and honour to be doing this work. We have been on this journey with them, and we have been able to line up employment or assist them to live independently, for example. It is not about us; it is about them being empowered and achieving their goals.”

CFIT has a team of 15 staff, including a supported employment co-ordinator, vocational counselor, L.I.F.E. coach and community support workers. Staff spend their days supporting individuals in their homes or on their jobs, participating in community activities, creating connections, and working on their next goals.

“We all want a sense of belonging and purpose, and CFIT supports them on their path of having a presence in community, to contributing to the community,” says Salikin.

Individual rights and dignity are at the centre of what CFIT does. The team works to ensure that individuals’ rights are upheld, including rights to make personal choices, receive quality care, confidentiality and privacy, having the opportunity to speak up and be heard, and access to and understanding of information about themselves.

The Nelson CARES Society program Custom Fit Inclusion and Employment Services has a vast pool of skilled job seekers who are ready, willing, and able to work. If you are curious about this program and how your business can benefit, call Salikin at 250-352-6011 ext. 5270, or email her at

The CFIT program is accredited by CARF International (Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities), an independent, non-profit accreditor of health and human services.

Custom Fit Inclusion and Employment Services is funded through a long-standing, collaborative partnership with Community Living BC.