On May 17th, United Way invited donors and other community members to join us on a Seeing is Believing tour to learn how local non-profits use social enterprise to creatively generate income to support sustainability and create impact in our community.
Without a doubt, social enterprise is a critical aspect of generating self-sustaining revenue for many non-profits. We visited three community partners to learn how they are leveraging their resources and creating income to reinvest back into the community.
First stop, ASK Wellness! ASK Wellness is now on the fifth-month of their amazing mattress recycling program. The team at ASK Wellness uses a recycled forklift donated by Domtar to lift and transfer the mattresses and material. This program employs people who have been away from the workplace and train them to ultimately re-enter the workforce. Not only is this program saving the landfill from 124 mattresses per week, but it is also generating income through the sale of mattress parts to wholesalers and buyers in BC and Alberta to be re-used and recycled. This green initiative is a force to be reckoned with!
Second stop, St. John Ambulance. St. John Ambulance has been proudly serving BC since 2011 and has become an integral part of our community. So how is this organization using social enterprise in their day-to-day operations? St. John Ambulance sells first-aid kits and equipment at wholesale prices and uses this income to fund their programs and in-house initiatives. They also provide on-site training for first-aid and CPR courses to the public through their unique training programs. Our tour members had the pleasure of meeting St. John Ambulance therapy dogs and learning about the difference this program was making in their community. Whether it is TRU Exam week, or a day at a senior’s home, these dogs and their owners volunteer thousands of hours per year to put a smile on someone’s face.
Last stop, New Life Community. The team at New Life Community has taken social enterprise to a whole new level! During our tour we were able to witness their in-house IT office which refurbishes old computers and prepares them for re-sale at affordable prices. Their social enterprise effort doesn’t stop at computers, as they also house a fully functioning dentist office upstairs that offers affordable care to community members in need. During weekdays, dentists from Kamloops volunteer their time and expertise to offer this incredible service. In addition, they even have a hair salon on site to offer free haircuts to their clients. That’s not all – they even offer piping hot meals daily to clients through their in-house kitchen.
United Way is proud to work alongside a wraparound network of non-profits to create a strong community in which every person has the opportunity to realize a better future. Together, we are possibility.