Through Above the Underground, which is part of an MCC British Columbia Employment and Community Development program, Monagh Ewen and other participants are trained in retail skills such as running a cash register, preparing debit and credit transactions and working with customers.
Monagh Ewen, who moved to Abbotsford, B.C., to live with her parents after her husband passed away, began by volunteering at Above the Underground and soon entered the training program. Read more about her and Above the Underground in the Spring 2010 issue of A Common Place magazine. acommonplace.mcc.org
Although Monagh Ewen, right, shown with store manager Darlene Davy, has finished the training program through Above the Underground, she continues to volunteer at the shop two to three times a week while looking for a job in retail.
Step outside for a different taste of MCC's job training efforts. Ecoworks, another MCC British Columbia Employment and Community Development program, trains workers in landscaping skills. More than 28,000 people have taken part in MCC B.C. Employment and Community Development programs over the past 19 years, and the effort reaches a range of participants who face challenges to finding and holding jobs, including those living with physical or mental challenges, at-risk youth, the homeless population and female survivors of abuse.
Ecoworks Lead Hand Chris Diamond, left, talks with program participant Aaron Ens while clearing leaves from a Langley Township walking path and surrounding landscape. Ecoworks has several different crews that work throughout the year on a variety of landscaping contracts with local government entities and with individuals.
For Betty Ann Stagg, left, MCC was the key to coming back to work after some three decades of staying at home. She was in the Above the Underground training program, was encouraged to train longer to become a supervisor there and then shifted to Ecoworks, looking for a new challenge.
Betty Ann Stagg enthusiastically packs down leaves in a trailer in Langley, BC. "I love working for MCC. It's provided me with people and support and challenged me to grow mentally, physically and spiritually," she says. "God has really blessed me; I know there's a God there who helps me no matter what the challenges." Learn about about MCC B.C. employment programs. www.findingyourway.ca/
Susan Voth, of Langley, B.C., participated in the Future Foundations program from 2002 to 2004. In addition to training in financial skills, each participant is encouraged to save up to $50 a month, which is then matched 3:1 through a partnership with VanCity Credit Union. "Putting away $50 a month was a real stretch for me but I knew that the more I'd put in the more I'd get out, so I made it a priority," Voth remembers. "I still use the things I learned at Future Foundations." Her savings helped her to buy a house with her son and when he bought her portion she was able to get a condominium in Langley.
Even as job training brings new opportunities in British Columbia, MCC efforts such as this thrift shop in Mission, B.C., are raising funds to help change lives around the world. Each year MCC's thrift shops in Canada and the United States provide some $11 million for MCC's work across the globe. Learn more about MCC thrift stores. bc.mcc.org/getinvolved/thriftshops
Volunteers are the lifeblood of thrift shops, helping figure out how to bring new life to donated goods. Jim Reist, who has been volunteering at MCC's Mission thrift shop for 10 years, inspects a clock to make sure it is working before it is placed for sale.
Lydia Friesen uses her florist skills at the MCC Clothing Etc. Thrift Shop in Abbotsford, taking old, donated flower arrangements and using the flowers to create new bouquets. Learn more about the work of MCC in British Columbia. bc.mcc.org/