Volunteer Stories

MEET THE FACES OF WORKING GEAR. VOLUNTEER SPOTLIGHT: BARB

Barb is not only one of Working Gear’s longest-serving volunteers— she also plays a huge role helping to run the shop in her role as Operations Manager.

Barb processes clothing donations, looks after merchandising and store aesthetic, trains volunteers and creates guidelines, such as the COVID-19 Health and Safety protocols—and that’s all alongside helping our clients. What doesn’t Barb do?!

Barb heard about Working Gear’s volunteer program in 2016 through her employers at WorkSafeBC. With more than a decade of retail experience under her belt, she felt that helping individuals to find the right interview and work appropriate clothing would be the perfect way to give back to the community.

“I feel a responsibility to go out there and make a difference. I could be one of these women; my son could be one of these young men. Working Gear is changing people’s lives for the better, I see that every day that I volunteer.”

Barb says it’s a privilege to be serving clients: “By helping people find clothing for work, we’re giving them a stepping-stone to future security. I’ve gotten to know many ex-clients over the years, and when they return to share the good news that they’ve found a job and are doing well, it warms my heart.”

Barb has seen Working Gear evolve over the years. The organization started out helping men find interview appropriate clothing, mostly for business or office type jobs.. But seeing the diversity of jobs our clients were applying for, Working Gear soon began to offer items like rain gear, boots and high-vis vests to meet the needs of individuals applying for manual labour positions.

Another important shift Working Gear has made over the years – we no longer just support men. Working Gear gladly welcomes and supports all gender expressions. And most recently, we started offering haircut services to help people look and feel more confident.

With all the changes, Barb remains as passionate about Working Gear as she did four years ago. “On certain days, I’m dragging. But every time I walk into the shop, I get a real boost and I come to life.”

Working Gear needs your support so that volunteers like Barb can continue to make sure the shop floor is stocked and ready to serve our clients. By making a donation, Working Gear can continue to break down barriers to employment by ensuring our clients are equipped to reintegrate into the work force.

If you’re interested in becoming a volunteer, contact Sarah Beley at info@workinggear.ca.

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