TRURO, N.S. – When Susan McCallum took a summer job with the Colchester Community Workshops she couldn’t have envisioned what the future held.
After graduating from university, she accepted a job as instructor, then moved on to become
operations manager. This month she officially took over the executive director’ position.
After 28 years with the workshops she knows what’s involved.
“I gave it a lot of consideration because I really liked working as operations manager,” she said. “I want to build on what’s been started here. We’re looking at expansion in the near future.
“It’s exciting and challenging. I’ve done bits and pieces of the role before, but it’s a new learning curve.”
While in high school, McCallum did some work with young people from the Nova Scotia Youth Training Centre.
“I really enjoyed it, and decided I wanted to work in that field,” she said.
About 21 years ago she brought up the idea of adding a thrift shop to the CCW programs.
“I thought it would be a great training program, helping the clients learn about customer service and cash. I had no idea it would grow to the extent it did.”
She noted while some programs are more financially successful than others, all have tremendous value for clients.
Programs include ribbons and buttons, cleaning, Intercolonial Café, recycling, preparing mail-outs, and community employment.
A building on Young Street operated as a convenience store for a short time, but closed because of damage to the structure. The building will soon be in use again, but not as a convenience shop.
The CCW has 80 clients, with about 15 on a waiting list, and a staff of about 25.
“We’re very fortunate to have a tremendous group of clients coming in, very committed staff and very committed board members,” said McCallum.
“The board lets us move in the direction that’s best for the clients, and provides support as needed.”
About one-third of the operating budget comes from government, with the remainder covered by programs and fundraising. CCW Foundation is a partner, and fundraises for capital projects.
McCallum said the community has stepped up every time something was needed, and they’re now able to give back, helping organizations like Third Place Transition House and the Red Cross through the New to You operation.
The CCW hopes to have news on expansion plans ready to share in a few weeks.
The CCW mission statement reads: Creating opportunities and providing support to adults with special needs, maximizing their potential within our community.
“I think, as long as we’re focused on our mission statement we won’t go wrong,” McCallum added.