In addition to the housing, family, health, and educational programs we offer young people, Choices for Youth (CFY) also operates four social enterprises: Impact Construction, Neighbourhood, Crust Craft Bakery, and The Shop. These unique businesses are designed to help youth aged 16-29 acquire meaningful employment experience, while learning job skills and life skills to help them as they progress in their career journeys. At The Shop, CFY’s manufacturing and production social enterprise, young people gain experience through working on a variety of projects for local businesses and organizations.
When new trainees join the team at The Shop, they begin with a 3-week paid training program. The training involves two elements: 1. Learning about specific work tasks, and 2. Developing life skills that are crucial to maintaining employment.
Whether trainees are learning how to safely use a sewing machine or a drill, they are gaining transferrable skills and confidence that they can apply in many areas of their life. In terms of soft skills, youth learn about teamwork, time management, organization, and interview preparation. The Shop is a supportive work environment where youth trainees can meet with qualified child and youth care workers and social workers to help them navigate systems and overcome barriers to employment.
The Shop is primarily a small-scale production and fulfilment business with the bulk of its orders coming from local companies, organizations and social enterprises that need certain items manufactured in small quantities. NL-based Sucseed are regular customers, with The Shop producing over 500 of their innovative hydroponic units per year.
This year, The Shop also undertook a project for Skills Canada to manufacture their new “Try-A-Trade” boxes that allow to students to learn different trades. The projects range from building a birdhouse to making simple speakers. A total of 150 packages are being made to be sent out to high school students in the province.
The Shop has also launched several its own products, primarily in the textile category. When the COVID-19 pandemic came to Newfoundland and Labrador in March 2020, The Shop responded by manufacturing non-medical masks for staff and customers. Last winter, SmartICE ordered customer-designed polar fleece neck warmers for their teams working across the Arctic.
Choices for Youth’s social enterprises operate with a zero-waste mandate, and The Shop has found opportunities to upcycle and reuse fabric from thrift store donations from Neighbourhood. From simple rags to stylish scrunchies and complex denim item, The Shop’s staff have found creative ways to divert textiles from the landfill and create employment and training for their youth along the way.
This Holiday Season, The Shop is launching another batch of ‘Holiday Lane” Gingerbread Decorating Kits. Each kit includes gingerbread, icing, and an assortment of decorations—ready for families and friends to decorate however they wish! This project is being launched alongside Urban Market and boxes will be available mid-November.
For more information on The Shop and CFY’s other social enterprises please visit www.choicesforyouth.ca/social-enterprise.