The Antigonish CACL workshop has undergone a facelift.
In recent months, the Kirk Street location has installed new windows (34), doors (four), siding and insulation.
Initially, workshop director Jeff Teasdale said the plan was much more modest, mainly focussed on the much-needed replacement of nine windows.
When he discussed that proposal with Steve Smith, president and CEO of Central Group of Companies, the local businessman and philanthropist suggested more needed to be done.
With the generosity of Smith and his Antigonish-based companies, Teasdale said the much larger renovation project began.
“It is an amazing show of generosity,” he added.
The Central Group of Companies contribution carries a $36,000 price tag.
“You do such a great job and we are pleased to be able to help you a little bit.
“Keep up the great work,” Smith said during a May 10 visit to the workshop.
This contribution to the renovation project is one of many connections between the organizations. Central locations across the province sell Adirondack chairs produced at the workshop.
“We are so proud to be selling chairs in our stores,” Smith said.
He commended the workshop for its quality work, with not only their furniture products, but also in the baked goods area.
“You are an amazing group,” Smith said.
Along with the Smith donation, the CACL workshop renovation projects benefitted from a $25,000 donation from the Nova Scotia Road Builders’ Association.
On the same day Smith visited, association members dropped by to meet workshop members and to tour the facility.
Last year, Donald Chisholm of Nova Construction Ltd. in Antigonish served as president of the association. As he described it, a “perk of being president” is having the opportunity to choose the recipient of the organization’s annual donation.
“We knew it was a great cause and that they do a great job in our community,” Chisholm told the Casket of his choice of beneficiary.
“The community sees the great value of the CACL workshop, so we thought it was a great fit.”
Proceeds for the annual contribution are amassed during an auction fundraiser.
“We are pleased to be doing this. It is great opportunity for us. We have very generous people who are always happy to help out year after year,” Grant Feltmate, Nova Scotia Road Builders Association executive director, said of his group’s members.
As a thank-you to both parties, Teasdale said a room in the workshop will be named after each.
He described the renovation project as another community effort for the CACL workshop, which offers vocational programs for people with intellectual disabilities.
“The support we get from the business and broader communities in Antigonish town and county is phenomenal,” Teasdale added.
Along with community contributions and, of course, the generosity of the Central Group of Companies and Nova Scotia Road Builders’ Association, he noted there were many others who contributed to the $70,000 initiative.
Jeff Dee (Eastern Sanitation Limited), Francis Overmars (Bio-Liquid Waste Disposal), Terry Morrow and Bill Gotschall (Atlantic Cathedral Painters) were also key corporate contributors to the renovation project.
With the finishing touches being completed, Teasdale said everyone is enjoying and taking advantage of the revamped building. He noted a “healthy building means healthy people” and a happier workforce.
“It will not only help greatly with fuel costs, but it has also changed the entire look of the building,” Teasdale said.
“It is all part of a new direction.
“It makes a difference when your building is healthy and looks good, which is beneficial for everyone we have working in and outside the building,” he added.
The CACL workshop has 70 members, with more than 70 per cent also working in the Antigonish community at a variety of businesses and organizations.
“That’s pretty incredible,” Teasdale said, noting the support of the community – business and otherwise – is second-to-none in that aspect as well.
Teasdale called these recent renovations as Phase 1 of a two-phase initiative.
In Phase 2, which he noted will include applying for funding from all levels of government, the plan is to add a storefront to the building. That addition would measure approximately 800 to 900 square feet, offer retail opportunities for the community, but also workshop members as part of their vocational training.
Teasdale noted such a space would provide more “on-the-job, on-site training” for CACL members.
“It will provide us with a great teaching tool for job preparation,” he said.
More broadly, Teasdale added, these measures are aimed at making the workshop as “self-sustainable as possible.”
He noted a line he uses when speaking with people in the community about what the Antigonish CACL workshop has to offer.
“We would rather do business than ask for donations.”