Moving along to Day 23 - Featuring Debra MacLean from Haley Street Adult Services Centre. We had the opportunity to speak with Debra and tour their amazing facility! We were able to view the many different rooms and activities they have daily for their participants.
Haley Street is a local Adult Services Centre which offers a vocational training facility for adults with disabilities residing in CBRM. Haley Street is very unique offering a wide range of skill development training. Haley Street accommodates individuals who have complicated and challenging support needs by teaching skills and personal development, life skills, and employability skills. Started in the 1960’s, it was a drop-in facility that was run by volunteers and was a place for people to gather after finishing their education. This, later developed into an adult services centre, through partnership with the former Department of Social Services, and eventually changing its focus where transferable skills were taught.
Tell us about why you started this venture:
In the 60’s, the centre was started by a volunteer group that was located at the recreation centre at Indian Beach. Parents needed somewhere for their children with disabilities to go after High School. They were looking for a place their family members could continue to learn and develop, new and useful, skills for the real world. From that need, it evolved into a business which created an atmosphere where people learn useful skills for the real world. They learn about being on-time, good values, and everyday essentials.
Tell us what it is that you offer/bring to Cape Breton:
We offer a place for adults with disabilities to learn in an environment set up to accommodate their individual needs. Our participants learn skills development, personal development, self-directed activity, life skills and much more. We fabricate wood pallets, survey stakes, kindling and other products to serve the needs of our community. Our business model is to shop local, buy local hardware, use the local garage, in other words all money stays in Cape Breton with the majority staying within the Northside community. We currently have 27 Employees who are very dedicated to the wellness of our 65 participants.
Another fabulous thing we bring to Cape Breton, is "Nora’s New to You" thrift store. The thrift store is located at 1161 Main street in Sydney Mines and sells both clothing and household items. We started Nora's as a result of a shared vision and saw this as something the community of Sydney Mines needed. Starting from only surplus of clothing coming from our staff and family members and evolving into a successful store that employs 7 individuals and is 100% non-funded.
Any big plans coming up?:
Yes, We have a brand new pellet maker that we hope to generate income for our centre as well as creating more employment opportunities. We are currently in the process of fine-tuning the operation so that we can start selling pellets. The center is also in the final stages of getting a training room ready to teach skills in a smaller group setting. This will be a great asset to the Haley Street team.
What is the most important thing you have learned about running your own business in Cape Breton?:
The most important thing I have learned about running a business in Cape Breton, is do not be afraid of change, embrace opportunities as they come up, and do not underestimate the power of social media. The community is usually very positive and supportive with our decisions, and having that support from our community is just as important as building a successful business.
What are your favorite things to do or places to visit in Cape Breton when you are not busy running the business?:
My children and grandchildren are a huge part of my life, I love spending my free time with them. I feel extremely lucky that they are able to work and live close to home. I enjoy spending my evenings and weekends with my newly retired husband and our 3 Golden Retrievers. I also enjoy knitting which has been a passion of mine for a long time.
Thank you very much Debra for taking the time to speak with us.