One of the most inspiring and beautiful things of walking through the doors of Working Gear’s shop, is to arrive and be greeted by the wonderful volunteers. We’d like to take time during this holiday season to give them all a shout out, for being the awesome human beings that they are. Sharing their time and energy with the staff and clientele of Working Gear. Working Gear is primarily volunteer ran, without our lovely volunteers we simply would not be able to survive.
We had the opportunity to talk to the lovely Paul Gouldhawke, a volunteer who is always smiling, ready to help. Thank you Paul for taking the time to speak to us about your time volunteering at Working Gear. Here’s what he had to say about the organization.
Paul, How did you hear about Working Gear?
About three years ago I came across Working Gear while searching the Internet.
How long have you been involved in the organization?
Almost three years. After working gear helped me obtain some construction gear, I volunteered. I was very impressed by the care and assistance the volunteers provided to their clients.
What is your favourite thing about the organization?
I think what I appreciate the most is the real difference Working Gear can make in someone’s life, often it is difficult to obtain all the gear or clothes when one is trying to return to work. We provide both construction and retail career outfits such as suits and shoes.
What motivates you to volunteer your time in the shop?
I’ve volunteered in the past for other causes and I recognize the need for an organization like Working Gear. The volunteer staff are very friendly and they do make a real effort to assist clients in obtaining needed clothing.
Can you share a special moment that you had while volunteering? or a story that has stayed with you?
We recently had a client new to Canada who volunteered with us after obtaining some interview clothing. He looked great in the suit he received and got the job the next day. This success is very motivating for our staff and organization.
How much of an impact do you see working gear is making in the community?
I think we make quite a difference in the lives of clients. It’s rewarding to see them find outfits and gear that will help them obtain work.
What can you tell potential donors about this organization?
We put donations to good use benefiting others. Our shop is well organized and it provides a unique service as the only organization of its type in Vancouver.
How will their money contribute to your cause?
Monetary donations are used to purchase items that are most needed. Not all items required are donated, we do purchase items such as rain gear and gloves.
So donors can rest assured their money will be used carefully and fully appreciated.
Special thanks to Paul Gouldhawke for sharing his story with us.
Working Gear is always looking for motivated individuals interested in volunteering with us. For more information about how to get involved, please contact our volunteer coordinator at email@example.com
As we move from our rain-filled days in British Columbia’s beautiful coastal rainforest, we look forward to the good weather ahead. With each season change, we welcome a different climate and these changes bring the opportunity for more and new WORK!
Have you heard the old joke in Vancouver?
“We have FOUR seasons here….Fall, Winter, Spring and CONSTRUCTION.“
The rise in temperatures allows more outside projects, meaning a greater need for Working Gear. As the temporary labour market scrambles to find Men & Women for development and renovation projects, the demand for our services is even higher.
Working Gear Has Answered The Call-To-Work for a Decade
Wherever our clients are destined to end up, Working Gear is dedicated to providing the essential first steps. Our own story is an inspiration to teamwork and workplace attentions. Throughout the years, Working Gear has been able to add additional service. We currently are able to offer haircuts, interview clothes, construction gear, and of course, work boots. Here is our Story:
2007 The Vision
Working Gear opened its doors with the vision of Founder Stephen Flynn.
“To relieve poverty by providing interview clothing and/or industry appropriate clothing to low income or unemployed Men in search of employment.”
2007-2010 The Call
“More than 50 percent of the people working in British Columbia are living paycheque to paycheque” “In Metro Vancouver, between 2007 and 2014, the increase in … expenses overall were 18%, while the median income of two-parent, two-child families only increased by 10%,” – vancouversun.com
Unemployment rates in BC dropped from 7.7% ( 2009) to 4.6% (2018). We answered this opportunity levelling the field for lower-income families.
Working Gear found partners in organizations locally and internationally.
2010 The Answer
From Chinatown, Working Gear helped over 730 men in just 3 years.
That summer, with the help of a Community Grant from Vancity the “No Small Feet” Campaign, was created with a Goal of 400 boot donations.
Media took up the cause supporting the campaign with mentions by:
GobalTV, CBC Early Edition, The Bill Good Show CKNW 980, Miss604, Indpt. Reporters.
2012 Community Support Grew
Media Supports partners broadcast our message: Boot drive over boot drive.
CBC Early Edition, Global TV, Global BC are regular supporters.
2016 The Era Of Fundraisers
On June 29th – Working Gear hosted it’s inaugural #GearToGive fundraiser at Bull Housser.
2017 The Setback
A Leaky roof collapsed: Working Gear was forced to move and recover a loss of donations.
2018 Community to the rescue
Working Gear moved to the Downtown East Side (DTES).
Community Supporters hosted fundraisers. Supporters like:
Vancouver Facial Hair Club, Tonia Jurbin & BC Hydro, Whisky Wisemen.
Volunteers Awareness Campaign – Volunteers distribute 400 high visibility Vests to Homeless
We answered WorkBC’s call out that 14 800 jobs posted in the region. Our New Goal: to help 1000+ men return to the workforce in 2018!
2019 Working Gear Today, Your Story Begins here.
We know there are increasingly more women in the trades
We have seen a 50% increase in the number of clients served this year alone.
SUCCESS – We have provided for 1,000 clients in 2018. On a given busy day, 10 – 12 clients requiring five or six volunteers.
We have 28 Booking Agencies booking in motivated men and women.
ON JUNE 6th: Our 4th Annual Fundraiser: Goal $100 000 to expand reach help 1000+ man and women return to the workforce.
Can you imagine yourself here?
Our doors are open 3 days: 2 hr/ day.
Together we can give unemployment the boot!
These are just a few of the SUPPORTERS, INNOVATORs, PARTNERS we couldn’t exist without.
RICE HARBUTT ELLIOT
WORK SAFE BC
Interview with Lani Brunn- Volunteer coordinator & Board of Directors
We had the opportunity to visit the Working Gear shop on a busy Wednesday evening. It was the first time that we visited the shop and we had a very pleasant experience chatting with some of the staff and volunteers.
Working Gear is an organization where work-ready men that lack the appropriate attire can get what they need free of cost. Working Gear Clothing Society is managed and ran by volunteers with no government funding. We interviewed Lani Bruun, who’s been a volunteer for 11 years and counting. Lani coordinates volunteers & campaigns, and she is also part of the Board of Directors.
What motivates you to volunteer at Working Gear?
For me, it’s the simplicity of our mission, it’s the fact that there this organization provides services to people who are back on their feet, who are ready for a second chance. If they don’t have the trade’s gear, if they don’t have the right interview clothes they don’t get the job. You can’t even walk into a construction site without having the steel toed boots. I almost think of it as a hinge in the door. It’s a very small piece but without it, the door does not open.
For me, the motivation is the fact that we are volunteer driven, it’s people donations, it’s really the community caring for their community.
Can you tell us a story about your time here that has stay with you?
It’s funny cause I am not in the shop as much anymore. I, probably for the first 7 years that I volunteered, I was in the shop every month. Mostly a lot of the stuff I do now is governance and support for the organization. One story that has always stayed with me is one when there was an old fellow that came one day, when I was volunteering. And he used to be a businessman, he used to have a really great life, he had a house, he had a job, he had nice clothes, but everything fell apart. He lost his way. He was an alcoholic, he ended up losing his job, he ended up losing his family. He basically lived really rough for about 10 years. When he came in that night, it was me and Stephen volunteering. We suited him up with this gorgeous suit cause he was ready, he was just ready. And he had done so much to be ready, it was his time. And he looked really good. But Stephen was like, no no no, it’s not right yet. So Stephen went and found this amazing dress jacket, with the little flaps and then he found this gorgeous expensive men’s scarf. And as soon as this fellow put it on, I watched him stand up straight, his shoulders went back. I often thought about how when he put this coat on, it felt like he was putting on dignity. And it felt like he knew he was back to he was.
How much of an impact Working Gear is making in the community?
I think we are making an impact in the community that is not huge, but it’s necessary. There are places that have tables stacked with donated clothes that people rifle through. But they don’t often find the right things, they don’t find the things that fit or they are not appropriate for an interview or for a job. I think that at Working Gear, because what’s happening here in the back, we are sorting all the clothes, we are making sure that it’s the right stuff, that they are clean. But it’s the right stuff and we make sure it’s the right people get it. The impact in the community is that people that are ready for that life change, they get to have it, they get to have their chance. Where often people wouldn’t given them a chance because they didn’t have the right interview clothes.
What can you tell potential donors about the organization, how would their money contribute the cause?
Our expenses are low, so basically for 3 or 4 grand a month, everything runs. I think it ends up costing us about 25 dollars for each person, that comes through the door. We can do all that we do for very little, there is not a lot of organizations that can say that. Also, we don’t feed funding. It’s so needed but this isn’t an area you can find funding for. And so it really needs to be the community coming together and supporting. And that’s what we find. Our donors are usually people that want to give someone a second chance. They want to give to a place where is going to make a huge difference. This money we receive goes to keep our doors open, we pay our rent, we buy steel toed boots (which are expensive) we make sure we have the right gear here.
We want to thank Lani for her time and we’d love for you to join us for an evening of entertainment, networking, food, and drinks on June 6th at our Working Gear’s annual fundraising event – Gear to Give. All to benefit the economic empowerment of unemployed or underemployed men and women.