Author Archives: Carrie Wakeford

College student Tim Lobb takes charge of his future with the help of Community Learning Alternatives

After a workplace injury, Tim Lobb started working with the folks at CLA to upgrade his skills to earn his Grade 12 diploma making it possible to follow his dream of enrolling in college—in just two years.

Tim LobbWhen a serious workplace injury forced Tim, to take a leave of absence from his assistant supervisor job, he began to realize that he couldn’t return to the warehouse and building materials company where he had worked for 17 years.

The workload was physically demanding and involved heavy lifting. The thought of returning to work left Tim concerned about the possibility of getting reinjured.

While he was on the road to recovery, Tim received Workers’ Compensation and was aware it would only cover his medical expenses and missed wages for so long. He wanted to make a career change, but was at a loss for what he could do. The 47-year-old Trenton resident was armed with years of experience and a strong work ethic, but he struggled with a learning disability and low self-confidence and worried that being without a high school diploma would be a stumbling block.

Tim was uncertain about his next move until a Workplace Safety and Insurance Board caseworker, who had been assigned to his file, recommended he pay a visit to Community Learning Alternatives (CLA).

CLA is an adult learning centre that helps individuals between the ages of 19 and 64 reach their goals. The organization is considered a key resource for adults wanting to upgrade their essential skills to benefit them in life, career, or training and education.

Thanks to funding from the Ontario Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development and the United Way, CLA’s learning and skills programs are provided for free to eligible adults in Hastings County.

CLA helps learners with skills upgrading and preparing for post-secondary studies, apprenticeships and employment. It also supports people working on secondary school credits and offers specialized programs such as computer training, financial literacy and budgeting, PSW preparation, customer service skills, and more.

Tim said he was hesitant about going back to school.

“I was worried that I wasn’t school material and that I wouldn’t be able to do it. I assumed that there was no way I could get my Grade 12.”

Eventually, Tim cast aside his doubts and fears and finally met with a CLA instructor who worked with him to develop a learning plan. He enrolled in a three-month Literacy program to improve his reading, writing and math skills so he could pursue his high school diploma.

During the course of the program, both Tim and his instructor noticed how well he excelled at math, particularly in algebra and trigonometry. It would be a positive indication of things to come for Tim.

The program allowed him to progress independently and on his schedule. The smaller classroom size was an added bonus, said Tim, allowing him to receive more individualized attention and interact more with the instructor.

“It was less distracting and intimidating, and I didn’t feel worried about what the other students would think of me when I asked questions.”

In addition to support from his family and friends, Tim said his CLA instructor and instructors were an important source of support during his educational journey.

“The way the instructors teach the classes is engaging and interesting. They have a unique way of seeing what you’re interested in and they just roll with it to make sure you succeed.

CLA stuck by me every step of the way. Unlike any other centre I’ve been to, they treated me with respect and made me feel good about myself. I’ve had self-esteem issues in the past and CLA helped me overcome that. They pushed me forward and helped me believe that I can do anything.”

Tim encourages anyone interested in advancing their education or skills to explore CLA as an option. Even with a busy schedule, it’s possible to find the time.

“Don’t hesitate. It’s up to you to take that first step to check it out,” he says. “You will not regret your choice.”

Reflecting on how far he’s come, Tim says if he hadn’t attended CLA, he believes he wouldn’t have had the faith to work towards his high school diploma.

In the aftermath of that incredible day – and as he moves forward to his next step in his journey – Tim has discovered that:

“Everyone’s path is different.  The important thing is to “keep your end goal in sight.”

Two years since his workplace injury, Tim now has his sights set on finishing his Business Administration Diploma at Academy of Learning College in Belleville, where he is currently enrolled.

Community Learning Alternatives is located in Belleville, Madoc and Trenton. Discover your strengths and improve your skills by working with the team at

Social Media

Following the LBS organizations, employment services and community services in your area just got easier!

Literacy Ontario Central South (LOCS) has created a document that includes links to websites and social media sites for organizations in Central Ontario.

You can download the complete list here: Social Media PDF. 

To make it effortless for you, we’ve included a Table of Contents with links that will take you to the specific county and service you’re looking for.

These social media sites provide great options to stay connected with others and to get up-to-date information on current programs, training information and resources.

LOCS supports LBS organizations in the counties of City of Kawartha Lakes, Haliburton, Hastings, Northumberland and Peterborough. We also work closely with employment service partners in each of these five counties and a wide range of other community services. Social Media is a great way to share current program and training information as well as resources.

You can follow LOCS on Twitter and Facebook.

If you would like to submit a change or be added to our list, please contact Carrie Wakeford at .


COVID-19 Resources

The following is a list of COVID-19 related resources provided to LOCS by partners.  Please email any resources you would like to share to:

A Guide To Pandemic Preparedness For Businesses – The Centre for Workforce Development

Post-Pandemic Business Resumption Checklist

Post-Pandemic Business Playbook

IHSA Guidance on in Class Training During COVID-19 PDF

CCOHS Business Continuity PDF

How to Develop a Workplace Safety Plan

OCC Pandemic Preparedness Toolkit for COVID-19 PDF

Chamber Pandemic Preparedness Guide 

Peterborough Chamber Business Resources for Recovery

WSPS Pandemic Preparedness Checklist PDF

WSPS Pandemic Recovery Return to Business Checklist PDF

Resources to Prevent COVID-19 in the Workplace

Reopening FAQs – AlphaPlus

Resources for Learners, Practitioners and Parents – AlphaPlus

Video: Getting Back to Work – Health Canada

Conference Board Return to Work Survey Results

Interviews with a Lawyer: LinkedIn Videos

Furlough in Canada

The Return to Work

Can Work Take my Temperature


Every organization will have different needs and will be developing their own reopening policies and procedures and creating their own safety protocols and plans. However, sharing information can help identify best practices.

The following are not recommendations, only a summary of ideas gathered through community discussions.

Purchases: Purchasing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as a group to save costs.  Search for local PPE suppliers.  Supplies may include masks, face shields, desk and table shields, hand sanitizer, thermometers, gloves, directional arrows, and circles for the floor. Seek out funding for PPE if needed.  

Onsite: Appointment only; one-to-one meetings only; existing clients only and/or one learner/client in the office at a time. Close waiting room or have one person in the waiting room at a time.  Designated meeting rooms; meeting in group rooms not small offices; removing or limiting access to onsite computers. Provide information when scheduling appointments so people arrive with information about policies around length of stay, food/lunch, socializing, as well as the organization’s mask policy.  This will help avoid surprises and disappointments. Mounting a TV or computer screen on the wall so two people can see the screen from a distance.  Have a press release ready. Contact public health for more information.

Planning:  Develop a screening checklist to use when scheduling an appointment and using the same checklist when people arrive for their appointment. Have a ‘sign in form’ with name, date and contact information in the event you need to reach people quickly. Role playing ‘visitors to the office’ as a team so issues can be addressed before the official opening. Develop scripts.  Ensure everyone has information and forms so there is consistency. Have plans to address misunderstandings.  Some organizations have accessed the services of a consultant to help develop and assess the re-opening plans and procedures. 

Staffing: Opening in stages and setting rotating staff schedules. Mandatory masks in common areas. Surveying staff to identify personal needs and concerns.  

Cleaning Protocols: Cleaning washrooms after each use; cleaning common areas; setting a cleaning schedule and posting a tracking form.  Plan for the small details e.g. managing things like used pens or keyboards.