New funding saves Island Rock Jewelry
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.”
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...