Clients are given the opportunity to work within several different areas with the hopes that they can gain employment within their community. Employment can be casual, part-time for full-time based on the clients desires.
They operate five social enterprises: Summer Street Works, Catering, Business Services, Trophies & Awards, as well as Facility Rentals. Clients of Summer Street Industries are employed within each one of these services. Each of these services were developed based on the opportunities identified by the clients and by a void in the community. Clients are given the opportunity to work within several different areas with the hopes that they can gain employment within their community. Employment can be casual, part-time for full-time based on the clients desires. The employment of intellectually disabled adults ensures they have constant income, hence the three major SDG's, No poverty, Zero Hunger and Good Health and Being are successfully achieved in this program. Their status is elevated in the society along with their contribution, hence it helps the entire community to become sustainable as all the resources are being used efficiently. Therefore, another SDG, Sustainable Cities and Communities is being achieved through this business.
This program emerged as a way for the organization to raise additional funds to be able to service the increasing number of clients within the community and as a result of conversations with the Summer Street Client Council. This council is made up of a group of clients that represents all clients. They developed a bill of rights and from there Summer Street worked on developing and providing new opportunities.
During the creation of this innovation, staff, clients and a consultant were all involved. The consultant was in charge of preparing a business plan and financial review for each service. Staff and clients contributed to the development of the business plan and were also instrumental in the overall development and implementation. Clients are also part of the evaluation to ensure that the service is meeting their needs in a fulfilling way.
When asked if the innovation relates to a sense of mission, purpose or meaning Paula Irving, a manager at Summer Street Industries said “Yes, it does. Summer Street’s purpose is to support and empower their clients (participants & employees) to lead to the quality of life chosen.” The mission is to create and facilitate opportunities for people with an intellectual disability that is mutually beneficial to their clients and the community. Their values are diversity & inclusion, empathy, honesty, innovation, respect, success and trust. The impact is not just limited to local communities as the program generates employment, brings income to the employees and revenues to the businesses thereby accomplishing another SDG, Decent work and economic growth.
The original idea was based on input from the clients. They were looking for opportunities to be employed, just like everyone else, and to be paid for their work. They wanted to do more in their community by way of volunteering or paid employment. It also provides a sense of purpose and a way to enhance their life skills and to become more independent.
Paula said that their purpose has always been to meet the needs and requests of the clients. The purpose of Summer Street is to support and empower their clients to lead the quality of life chosen so they need to develop opportunities for the clients to be able to fulfill their requests.
Summer Street creates and facilitates job opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities, one person at a time. The impact of their business ranges from an individual level to an entire community. It provides a platform for adults with intellectual disabilities to learn, earn, develop new skills, contribute and improve their standard and quality of life. Summer street allows them to have a professional life. This operation not only impacts the present but most importantly secures the future of adults with intellectual disabilities in the community. The impact on a larger scale is an increase in employment. This shows if more businesses like summer street operate, it will boost up employment and improve the quality of life drastically, especially of disabled adults. Summer Street creates these opportunities that are mutually beneficial for the client and the community while taking care of the environment. To strike this balance in today’s time is an achievement in itself, where profits have become a greed more than a need. When asked about the impact on the environment, Paula Erving proudly shared that, “Yes, there has been a positive impact of the innovation on the environment. We and our clients have incorporated eco-friendly methods in our operations and in their services. Today, they are more inclined towards recycling, upcycling, and repurposing. One example could be of the collection of pop tabs, which are then exchanged for funds to buy wheelchairs for the needy.” In addition to the job opportunities, Summer street also provides meals for seniors and low-income families. This shows how deeply they care about society and are always up for help. Paula also commented on the evidence of their success, “ The evidence would be the success of the number of clients of Summer Street that are employed within Summer Streets Social Enterprises. Their increase in revenues also indicates the positive impact of the program. The clients have developed a bill of rights that now only has 3 red action items and they are items that cannot be easily addressed by Summer Street and their staff. Another impact would be the acceptance and support of the community and local businesses. Their sustainability and profits show that the initiative is successful and a profitable venture for all the participants”.
Summer Street has generated a much needed impact on not only employers within the community but also the self-accomplishment feeling of the clients. Every year more and more aspiring employees have joined us and many businesses are striving from the impact our clients bring to them.
Paula also said she can see the positivity generated in the form of smiles and the community striving from all the great quality work the team at Summer Street has to offer. As a small town, New Glasgow is home to many small businesses and organizations that are family run and with the help of the team many families can enjoy their vacations and spend time with their families due to the assistance of Summer Street.
The social benefits of Summer Street Industries include better quality of life for the intellectually disabled population as well as more skilled employees in the job market. Also, an increase in employment which further impacts the national economy. Summer Street is also heavily focused on the growth of the community and helping local businesses.They also strive for better recognition, respect and status for the intellectually disabled population. With their help, more businesses are adopting recycling, upcycling and repurposing ensuring a positive impact on the environment.
Paula Irving, Manager
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New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, CA
Business Website: https://summerstreet.ca/
Year Founded: 1968
Number of Employees: 11 to 50
Summer Street Industries, located in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia is an organization that focuses on the development of social enterprises, based on the outcomes of the client focused approach. They create and facilitate opportunities one person at a time.