SPRINGHILL, N.S. – Loads of laundry are being washed at the GOVRC Adult Service Centre in Springhill.
“We have woodworking, which is very successful, but we wanted something else that would bring in more revenue and still offer challenging training for the clients,” Paul Williams, executive director of the GOVRC, said.
The Bridge Adult Service Centre in Amherst offers laundry service and, just last year, Sunset Industries opened a laundry service in Oxford.
“We surveyed what we could do and laundry seemed to be popular with other organizations,” Williams said.
The GOVRC, a non-profit organization, has operated in Springhill for 48 years. They employ 22 clients with various intellectual disabilities, who range in age from 19 to 68.
They build wood pallets for industries throughout Cumberland County and, also, operate a greenhouse throughout the spring months.
Thirty-seven per cent of their funding comes from the province, with the other 63 per cent coming from the sale of the products they create.
“You have to keep them engaged and keeping them learning, while, at the same time, producing revenue,” Williams said. “So, besides providing work training and vocational training to the clients, we also teach life-skills and employment training, and teach them how to shop and how to budget.”
Eleven of the clients are working laundry detail, using a new industrial-sized washer and dryer.
“They’re excited about the new challenge and they’ve been learning very well,” Williams said.
The work helps clients prepare for the future.
“These are all important life skills they need to make them the best person they can be while also preparing them for when their life circumstances change. For instance, if their grandparents or parents pass on,” Williams said. “When that happens it’s either they learn to live on their own or they move to a group home, so a lot of what we do here is a long-term plan to help them develop skills and be more independent.”
With customers coming and going, it also helps the clients interact more with the community.
“We like to be involved in the community and to interact with the community, so this will definitely encourage that,” Williams said.
Williams started working at the GOVRC in 2014 and says he loves the job.
“I really like the feeling every day of coming in and knowing I’m making a difference in people’s lives,” Williams said. “Everyone says they’d like to have a job they enjoy and a job that’s fun, but to have a job you go to every day that has an impact on people’s lives is special.”
And he says the clients are fun to work with.
“I have a different relationship with each client because they all have their different needs and disabilities and some rely on you more than others.”
It costs $6 to have one load of laundry washed, dried, folded and put in a bag, and two or more loads cost $5 per load.
“You just drop it off, and then pick it up later,” Williams said. “And we have a 10 per cent discount for seniors and NSCC students.”
All money raised goes directly back into providing life-skills training programs for the clients and, if things go well, to hire a new staff member.
Williams thanks their board of directors for moving ahead with the laundry service.
“It was one of our board of directors idea to have a laundry service, Mary Ellen MacDougall,” Williams said. “I know she doesn’t want credit but I think she deserves it.”
The GOVRC is located at 32 Miners Memorial Drive.