New fund­ing saves Is­land Rock Jew­elry

The Southern Gazette - - Front Page - Colin.far­[email protected]­erngazette.ca

The St. John’s-based or­ga­ni­za­tion that had funded them in the past was un­able to pro­vide money for all the ap­pli­ca­tions they re­ceived this year.

“… so we were left very close to open­ing date, not know­ing where to turn— hav­ing no money to pay the clients their wages,” ex­plained em­ploy­ment coun­sel­lor Kim­berly Wrag­gMachamer.

In past years, she said, 50 per­cent of the wages for the clients came from a char­i­ta­ble or­ga­ni­za­tion, and the re­main­der came from the profit from sale of the prod­ucts.

“So we were . . . not re­ally know­ing what we were go­ing to do this year, where we were go­ing to turn, if we were go­ing to have to start let­ting peo­ple go, be­ing un­able to hire them.”

Wragg-Machamer said that to­gether with the Town of St. Lawrence they ap­proached Burin-Grand Bank MHA Carol Anne Ha­ley, who then reached out to Ocean Choice In­ter­na­tional (OCI).

“OCI jumped (on­board) as fast as pos­si­ble,” said Coun. Mike Stacey. “…they re­al­ized what the pro­gram meant to the town and they de­cided, within days, that what­ever money we need (around $17,000) they were go­ing to give us.”

St. Lawrence Mayor Paul Pike said for the com­pany to step for­ward the way they did to as­sist the pro­gram shows their com­mit­ment to the town.

“We are so please with that,” he said.

The fund­ing pro­vided by OCI was enough to cover the half of the wages for clients em­ployed un­der the Three L pro­gram.

Sense of pride

Pike said that in his con­ver­sa­tions with clients of the Three L pro­gram it’s ob­vi­ous the sense of pride they get from their work.

“They’re happy as any­thing… which is great.”

Wragg- Machamer added, “Their em­ploy­ment goes so far in help­ing them form their iden­ti­ties. They be­come tax­pay­ers, in­di­vid­u­als with pur­chas­ing power, they are not just re­ly­ing on in­come as­sis­tance, or some­thing to get through. They’re now in con­trol of their own money, and they are in­de­pen­dent.”

An­thony Burke says he cer­tainly would have missed his job if he had not had the change to spend an­other sea­son work­ing with the jew­ellery.

He shared with The Gazette some of the things he en­joys about his work.

“It’s just get­ting the nice colours of the stone and mak­ing jew­ellery with it,” he said, “the dark greens, the pur­ples, the blues.”

He added he en­joys work­ing on ear­ring, key­chains, and brooches the most, but there is one piece that he is not a found of cre­at­ing.

“The tiny dol­phins, they’re too small to work with and you have a hard time try­ing to find it in the floor (if you drop it),” he said.

When asked what other as­pects of work­ing with Is­land Rock that he en­joyed, Burke’s sense of hu­mor was ev­i­dent in his re­sponse.

“Tor­ment­ing the co-work­ers.”

COLIN FARRELL/THE SOUTH­ERN GAZETTE

Is­land Rock Jew­elry and the St. Lawrence Miner’s Mu­seum em­ploy five clients from the Three L Train­ing and Em­ploy­ment Board as well as four co-work­ers who work with the clients. Pic­tured (front, left to right) are Roberta Tobin, Cindy Ed­wards, Lorna...

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