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New thrift shop to offer employment, training

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Simon Fuller

Oct 8, 2021


A Windsor Park woman is working hard to support a cause close to her heart by creating a program that will provide work experience to marginalized individuals.

Janice Howard told The Lance recently that the Ready, Set, Go! Work Program will take the form of an non-traditional thrift store, insomuch as it will be tailored to marginalized individuals, as well as providing residents in remote First Nations communities access to gently used goods through care packages.

Janice Howard is working hard to get the Ready, Set, Go! Work Program up and running.
Janice Howard is working hard to get the Ready, Set, Go! Work Program up and running.

At press time, the store was set to open in February 2022 in a space in a former self-storage building at 1032 Logan Ave.

‘We’re an Indigenous, non-profit organization, and I started putting the pieces together in May when I started developing the program and reaching out to get feedback," Howard said.

"I have lots of support behind me for the program, and I’m really, really excited and can’t wait to get started. Every person with a disability has the right to work. I’m a foster mom, and two of my kids have slight autism. I know there are major gaps in retail right now, so I thought I’m going to create a program."

Howard’s decision to use a thrift store model as a vessel for the program is a natural one, as she has experience in the field: she managed the Prairie Crocus Thrift Shop, which recently moved north to East Kildonan after being located on Nairn Avenue for years. As her project has gained momentum, she’s signed letters of partnership with Connect Employment Services and Trailblazers Life Choices.

Moving forward, Howard is hoping to create more partnerships in the community, as she seeks support with a number of aspects of the operation, and she’s also inviting individuals and organizations to become corporate donors and financial sponsors, and she’s encouraging skilled tradespeople to lend a volunteer hour or two as she seeks to secure funding. She said the partnerships with Connect and Trailblazers will ensure there are no shortage of students to take part in the program.

The Ready, Set, Go! Work Program consists of a specialized retail program, where students will receive up to 900 hours of practical experience, and they will receive a retail certification. According to the program’s website, the components of the program include Intro to Retail, Customer Service 101, Décor and Styles 102, Production 103, Workplace 104, and Employability 105.

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