We believe that every person needs a friend, a home and a job. Historically, Gateway has been very good at providing a friend and a home to people, but we haven’t been great at helping our friends find jobs. A few years ago Dion was struck with an idea for a business that would help our friends on the street reintegrate into the workforce. At Gateway alone we currently spend $50,000 a year in cleaning our sheets, towels and pillow cases for our beds. Between the five Salvation Army shelters in downtown Toronto we spend $325,000 a year for these services.
And that’s exactly what we did. We raised the money to renovate a space a build an industrial laundry facility.
We now hire six people at a time from our shelters, walk alongside them for six months in the linen program and then--once they graduate--connect them to a local employer, K-Bro Linens, that has promised to hire every one of our graduates into full-time work.
We’re so excited to see this vision come to life. As Christians we are called to share the gospel; the good news. We believe this program, which comes out of our love for Jesus and therefore our love of our neighbour, is a very pure form of the Gospel. Good news to people that cannot find work, is work. Good news to people that get jobs but quickly lose them because they are dealing with an addiction or have not been taught the life skills to budget and pay rent is mentoring in these areas. Good news to people stuck in a shelter because they can’t keep a job is a program that will enable them to not only hold down a job but also afford their own place to live. And because our staff at Gateway consists of people who love Jesus and are motivated by His love, we expect that our program participants will experience a real sense of God’s presence and blessing in their lives. Gateway Linens is good news indeed.
Dion: Then the idea hit me--why not open our own laundry business, do our own linens and hire folks who live in our shelters to work there? We could offer life-skills coaching, a basic finances course, one-on-one job coaching and teach a trade all at the same time.