Clare organization wins social enterprise award

Karla Kelly, Digby Courier
Published on April 2, 2015

An award from the Nova Scotia Co-operative Council will assist a Digby County organization to take over management of a local internet café at Université Sainte Anne in Church Point.

Clare Organization Representing Persons with Disabilities (CORD) was one of four social enterprises in the province chosen in the Nova Scotia Co-operative Council’s social enterprise innovation competition for 2014-15.

In a news release last week, the council said the competition winners are a diverse group that are diligently working to improve the lives of Nova Scotians.

“They are meeting the social needs, economic needs and cultural needs of the province from one end to another,” said council president and CEO Dianne Kelderman.

CORD president Monette Robichaud said the organization received a $2,500 equity investment based on its new business venture at the Rendez-vous de la Baie visitor centre at the university.

“It was recommended that a not-for-profit organization operate the café as a social enterprise and we were approached to take over management of the business,” said Robichaud.

“Our new social enterprise, the Lisa T. Café, will provide work experience and employment to persons facing serious barriers to employment.”

Money received from the award will help purchase new equipment to operate the café.

“The equipment will cost us the most and, along with the award, we have received a lot of support by way of donations from the community, municipality and businesses to get the café up and running,” she said.

“We were fortunate to have John Henry from WOW! Foods Systems Inc. of Truro act as a consultant in setting up the café.”

Robichaud said the café will benefit the entire community as the skills learned at the Lisa T. Café are transferable to many employment situations and will prepare some of these individuals for jobs in the community.

Robichaud said CORD began 20 years ago to represent and assist persons with disabilities in Clare by advocating for the creation of positive independent lifestyle options that promote inclusion and growth.

“We believe that everyone deserves to be included in our society and we are striving to take the stigma out of disabilities whether it be physical, mental or social,” she said.

Robichaud said the café was named Lisa T Café after a special lady from Clare who was CORD’s first social enterprise employee for their ‘Snack Attack’ program.

“Lisa Thibodeau was an active participant in CORD who passed away suddenly at the age of 30 nearly five years ago,” she said. “She made a large impact on many who met or knew about her by proving how employment could change a life. The Snack Attack changed her life.”

The Lisa T Café is scheduled to open in May.