An extensive remodeling and expansion project for the Regional Occupational Centre (ROC) Society’s building in Port Hawkesbury has been unveiled.
“It is really great – the response has been incredibly positive,” Shauna Cotton Poirier, ROC Society development co-ordinator, said.
The ROC supports 30 adults with intellectual and physical challenges from the Strait region.
“They love it,” Cotton said, noting the new work experience opportunities the expansion will provide to them, which she described as the “main focus” for the project.
“It is hard, at times, to find employment and this will provide them with skills they can take out [into the community] and add to their resume.”
Last March, the society unveiled plans for the long-talked-about initiative, which received funding from different levels of government.
With the work, the building’s storefront has been expanded from 200 to 1,000 square feet.
“We opened last Thursday [Nov. 9] and it was unbelievably busy in those first couple days,” Cotton said, noting the response continues to be strong.
Baked goods and homemade crafts – made on-site by ROC clients – are just a sample of what is available in the storefront.
There are also spices, rock art and bath products – just to name a few – from several artisans in the region.
The expansion also includes the establishment of a second-hand store which, Cotton noted, is giving clients an opportunity to learn skills such as steaming, hanging, stocking and dealing with customers.
The society also expects to create three new jobs, with the revamped space, through ROC’s independent living support program.
Along with storefront, the initiative includes new office space.
The building will also receive a new roof, wheelchair ramp, flooring on the main level, windows and kitchen upgrades.
Cotton noted the society plans to host an official grand opening in the spring.
“We want to wait until the landscaping and work on the parking lot is complete,” she said.
In an ongoing effort to finance the expansion initiative, the ROC has launched another fundraiser.
“We are still a little short,” Cotton noted of monies for the expansion initiative.
Tickets are on sale for a trip for two to Montreal, including airfare and accommodations, to watch an NHL game featuring the hometown Canadiens and Nashville Predators.
Puck drop will take place Jan. 19.
The Al Samson Charitable Fund, which is providing the prize package, has a deep connection to the ROC. Samson’s brother and two sisters were clients of the Strait area centre.
Along with the centre, which is located on Macquarrie Drive, prize tickets are available at Scotiabank Port Hawkesbury, Island Nest in Arichat and Seal Cove Convenience in Louisdale.