GUYSBOROUGH – After many years of wishing, planning, fundraising and organizing, the Sherbrooke Opportunities Society (SHOPS) day program has opened in St. Mary’s. The first five clients arrived at the group’s new space at St. Mary’s Academy / Education Centre last week.
Programming currently takes place Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, although if more funding is secured, SHOPS hopes to be able to take the program to five days a week and hire a second staff person.
Prior to opening the doors, SHOPS’s new program manager, Lyndsay Keith, and volunteers worked with clients from a distance and arranged for them and their parents to visit the space and get comfortable with the new surroundings.
“They absolutely love it,” Keith said of clients’ reactions to the new centre.
The open-concept space has a white board at the front to help start the day with basic information that may be needed. Off to one side is an area for clients to work on SHOPS’ new shredding contract. They shred documents from the municipality, as well as other businesses and organizations needing this service.
“The clients love this work,” she said.
The other side of the space has a kitchen area where clients can have their lunch. This could also be rented out for dining events, said Keith.
SHOPS has the potential to grow with more clients. “Getting the word out is important,” said Keith.
“Some people were sceptical that it was a school program, but it’s not. It’s a work program. Clients will learn to bake and cook, clean tables, etc. They will learn lots of life skills.”
The clients get along very well, she said, and range in age from 20 to 62.
Keith, who lives in Port Bickerton, previously worked 14 years for Summerstreet Industries in New Glasgow – a much larger operation for this kind of day program.