Michael Jacques' story

Sobeys is partnering with Michael Jacques, an employee with autism and intellectual disabilities who wrote a book about his experiences – Can’t Read, Can’t Write, Here’s My Book – to help promote his book and his story.

Grocery Business spoke with 27-year-old Jacques, who has worked at Sobeys for 11 years, first as a high school co-op in a Welland, Ont. store and for the last 9 nine years at the Fonthill, Ont. store.

“I can’t read or write, and I always wanted to be able to read, so I decided to think outside the box and said let me write a book.”

Given his challenges, it wasn’t an easy task. But over the course of five and a half years, using speech-to-text technology on his iPad, he created a daily journal that turned into the book that was published last year. He’s now embarked on a book tour in Ontario and the East Coast.

Michael Jacqes (right) on his book tour with his father Marcel Jacques (aka executive assistant)Michael Jacqes (right) on his book tour with his father Marcel Jacques (aka executive assistant)

Jacques describes Sobeys as his “second family” and has developed a bond with Ron Kore, Sobeys Fonthill franchisee and the local community.

“I do everything except I don’t handle knives or money because of my disability. Working at the store makes me feel good because I’m part of society and everyone knows me.”

Kore describes Jacques as a loyal and dedicated employee. In fact, Jacques father Marcel, who Jacques describes as his “executive assistant” says even on his days off, he’s in the store working.

“In the Spring Michael handles all outside flowers and when he has a day off, he’ll often go early in the morning to water the flowers because he doesn’t want them to die. If he sees a cart, he’ll put it away and that’s just Michael.”

While Kore and his staff have identified unique ways to support Jacques at work, Sobeys corporate is also supporting Jacques during his book tour.

“Sobeys got me a job and it’s important to have a job. But Sobeys is also helping me to sell my book in the East Coast and Ontario. They are donating $2 of every book they sell in their stores to the Special Olympics.”

And Jacques in turn is donating partial proceeds of book sales to the Special Olympics and to Community Living Ontario, organizations he is actively involved in – the 6 ft. 4 in. Jacques has participated in Special Olympics basketball and baseball and is a Community Living Ontario volunteer board member.

The busy author also does inspirational speaking engagements at elementary and high schools, Rotary Club and Lion’s Club. Recently, he was invited to speak to 600 employees at Apple headquarters to discuss how he wrote a book using an Apple iPad.

Sobeys is selling Jacques’ book at all of its stores in Ontario and Eastern Canada.

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