‘I’m Very Focused and Independent’

Melanie Corona sits in a booth at the Eastside Mario’s restaurant she owns and operates and has no trouble coming up with ways Utaya makes her north Oshawa business better.

“He excels at his job,” Melanie says of her dedicated prep cook. “He’s confident, very friendly and always has a smile on his face.”

In his role, Utaya worked tirelessly to prepare all of the food for the day in a healthy and safe manner.

“His position is really the backbone of the restaurant,” notes Melanie.

The glowing recommendation of Utaya and his work does not end there. Melanie is proud of the contribution Utaya makes to her business and what he has achieved personally.

As far as Utaya is concerned, he just enjoys being treated like everyone else.

“They treat me well,” says the soft-spoken Utaya, 48. “They have been really helpful to me.”

Diagnosed with schizophrenia, Utaya was an inpatient at Ontario Shores for three months back in 1999. Since then, he has been busy building his life. As an outpatient, Utaya has learned about his mental illness and has been successful in managing his mental health.

“I’m very focused and independent,” says Utaya, who was paired with Eastside Mario’s thanks to relationships through Vocational Services at Ontario Shores. “I’m happiest when I am working.”

Since his stay as an inpatient, Utaya has moved back into the community, gone back to school, found employment, and purchased a car.

He has also been building relationships with friends and family.

“My family has been very supportive of me,” says Utaya, who has been working at Eastside Mario’s for three years now.

While appreciative of the opportunity he has been given at Eastside Mario’s, Utaya has an eye on the future. He’s completed courses to become a security guard and hopes to eventually pursue opportunities in that field.

But his boss is hopeful that he won’t be leaving any time soon.

“He’s amazing,” Melanie says of Utaya. “We would love him to stay with us for a very long time.”