B Social Cafe
Following the closure of their sheltered workshops, Community Living Dufferin was looking for meaningful and more inclusive opportunities for the people they support. “Employment was a natural fit,” said an enthusiastic Robert Bingham, Executive Director at Community Living Dufferin.
In partnership with Family Transition Place and Dufferin Child and Family Services, Community Living Dufferin launched B Social.
Legally known as B Social Dufferin Enterprises, it provides job training to those looking to enter or re-enter the workforce in an environment suited to their needs. This might mean a high school student who is looking to bolster his or her resume, or a parent who chose to take some time off to raise their children, or a person with an intellectual disability looking to gain new skills.
B Social operates four concession stands and cafes located on campuses, recreational centres and arenas in Orangeville and its surrounding area. It is a for-profit enterprise that does not rely on any government funding. The three partners are guided by a business model and a Board of Directors that is made up of local business owners. “Bringing together people who knew the ins and outs of the food industry was key to the success of this project,” said Karen Murphy-Fritz, Manager, Residential and Options at Community Living Dufferin.
This initiative provides an employment stepping stone. Traditional job placements have not always been successful for some people who truly do wish to work but are held back or passed over, due to their limitations, lack of experience, or requirement of a flexible schedule.
These businesses have provided over 22,000 hours of employment to people who have struggled to find employment elsewhere.
The community has embraced this initiative with open arms. With their profits, B Social continues to reinvest in the company and the community. It has purchased radio advertisements to promote the business, lent money to other social enterprises and even sponsored a local professional women’s hockey tournament.
Eventually, B Social would like to expand into other business ventures, including a cleaning service for commercial buildings and a food box service for community members. They are also looking to create a scholarship program.
Karen and Robert encourage other agencies to look outside the box, dream big and work with local businesses to create opportunities to raise awareness, employ community members and even make a profit.