When asked “What is the promise you see in the future of social enterprise?”, Liam O’rourke, Executive Director of LakeCity Works, gave us this hopeful answer:
Having just moved back to Nova Scotia after 12 years running a social enterprise in Montreal I am energized by the incredible work being done in social enterprise across Nova Scotia. The organizations making things happen, the government support for these ventures and most importantly the public support for businesses with a social impact makes me think that social enterprise is on the verge of something incredible here in Nova Scotia. With the momentum already generated I am just thrilled to be home in Nova Scotia and contributing my small part towards this exciting movement.
It has been less than a year since Liam stepped into the ED role after the retirement of previous director Chris Fyles, but already he’s seen exciting and significant changes in the organization. In February 2018 LakeCity launched a new umbrella brand LakeCity Works to house the already existing ventures LakeCity Woodworkers, LakeCity Reboot and LakeCity Employment Services, and to make room for all of those that are to come!
Read on to learn more about this long-standing organization (37 years and counting) that’s using social enterprise to strengthen its Dartmouth community, and beyond.
Interview with Liam O’Rourke, Executive Director at LakeCity Works.
What is the overall social and/or environmental mission?
Empowering people to be themselves and thrive. LakeCity supports people with mental illness to build on their strengths, take on responsibilities and access work experience, education and employment. They provide hope, support, respect and empowerment to their community, and through this, help each person reach their full potential.
How many social enterprises does your organization run?
Two (with more in the works!): LakeCity Woodworkers and LakeCity Reboot. We are a puzzle comprised of many pieces. We offer employment services, computer repair, cleaning and maintenance, therapeutic woodworking, and services for seniors. We also have many other projects in the works for the upcoming year.
- LakeCity Woodworkers: Our flagship social enterprise has a lot going on. Outside the beautiful solid wood furniture on display in our showroom, we have teams working daily on the production of wine racks for distribution across the continent and survey stakes for the construction industry. Most recently we’ve also added firelogs and firestarters, a new line of products for folks interested in supporting us but not ready for a lifetime piece of furniture.
- LakeCity Reboot: Have an old computer that you aren’t sure what to do with? Look no further than LakeCity Reboot. Our team at Reboot will wipe all of the information from your computer, evaluate it and decide if it is to be properly recycled or rebuilt into an affordable machine for someone on a budget.
What would you consider to be your biggest success stor(ies)?
Our success is measured by our client and participant success. To get an idea of overall success and community impact: our total number of placements from March 31st 2017 – March 31st 2018 was 213. Of this number, 60 individuals were successful in attaining paid community employment and the remainder accessed vocational programs, onsite placements, education or volunteer positions.
What gets you excited about coming to work every day?
There are really two major things that I love coming to work for:
1) Our clients, participants and staff who work so hard to make our organization what it is. They truly are the lifeblood of LakeCity.
2) The potential to continue improving. We are so proud of what we do here everyday but what really makes me excited about coming to work is the appetite to continue improving every aspect of our work. Since starting in September, a series of small projects aimed at improving the day-to-day life of the people that work and participate here have made a huge impact and with a recent announcement of funding for continued capacity building here the next few months will mean more significant changes and a better space that can accommodate more people every day!
What is the promise you see in the future of social enterprise?
Having just moved back to Nova Scotia after 12 years running a social enterprise in Montreal, I am energized by the incredible work being done in social enterprise across Nova Scotia.
The organizations making things happen, the government support for these ventures, and, most importantly, the public support for businesses with a social impact, makes me think that social enterprise is on the verge of something incredible here in Nova Scotia.
With the momentum already generated I am just thrilled to be home and contributing my small part towards this exciting movement.