Nearly two years after settling into the North End, a non-profit organization providing employment to people with mental health issues is looking to court Winnipeg landlords to expand its thrift store operations in the city.
Last week Bob Rempel, executive director of Self-Starting Creative Opportunities for People in Employment (SSCOPE), told The Times the organization is looking to partner with landlords or tenants to open two to three new storefronts in other parts of the city by 2016, in an effort to boost its employment numbers up to 400.
"We’ve really grown in the last three to four years," Rempel said.
"We have to keep pushing every day to keep that growth going."
SSCOPE opened its Treasures Thrift Store and offices at 1466 Arlington St. in August 2011 after moving from 1000 Notre Dame Ave. SSCOPE has quickly outgrown the small, 3,500 sq.-ft. location, Rempel said.
The organization is looking for units around 5,000 sq.-ft. with ample parking and loading space, Rempel said, adding he hopes to work with charitable landlords willing and flexible enough to negotiate a cost effective rent structure and agreement with the non-profit group.
The new locations will help SSCOPE expand its reach in the community, and the group is particularly interested in opening up in the south end of the city, perhaps on Pembina Highway and Portage Avenue, Rempel said.
In 2012, SSCOPE provided work to 185 clients in various casual and part-time positions. SSCOPE runs a handful of businesses, including lawn care and snow removal, mandated to helping those with mental health issues become part of the workforce.
Many of SSCOPE’s clients have been diagnosed with everything from brain injuries to Asperger’s, fetal alcohol syndrome, schizophrenia and other anxiety and depression disorders.
"Everything we do is all about creating jobs with people with very few options," Rempel said.
"It’s about trying to do real work and providing excellent customer service so our people can feel that they’re working at a level as others in the community."
The organization is eagerly awaiting the spring melt to ramp up its spring cleanup and summer yard care business.
SSCOPE served 60 customers last year through the program, and recently secured another work vehicle in an attempt to double its customer count, Rempel said.
"By creating a whole new crew, that’s another eight jobs per day, 35 new jobs overall if we get new customers," he said.
For more, call Rempel at 204-987-6302 or visit www.sscope.org.