Lawrencetown, N.S., has just one post office.
When the pharmacy that hosted the Canada Post office in the little village of 668 in Annapolis County announced that it was closing its doors for good on June 30th, effectively shutting down the post office, a local disability employment group stepped in to keep the mail coming to town.
The Carleton Road Industries Association (CRIA), a non-profit, charitable adult service centre that provides vocational and life-skills training to local adults diagnosed with mental, intellectual, emotional, and/or physical disabilities was already running a number of local services staffed by clients with disabilities, including a flyer-delivery service, property-maintenance, a gas bar and a woodworking shop.
The CRIA felt a post office was the next step.
"I thought it would be a great program for our clients," Mackenzie Akin, the CRIA's executive director, told the Annapolis County Spectator. "A great expansion to Carleton Road."
On Tuesday, the post office re-opened in a home — donated by a local resident, and renovated by numerous members of the community —staffed by three adults with disabilities. Once the post office starts offering full services on July 17th, more clients will rotate through, gaining experience working with the public and earning some independent income.
"It gives them a great self esteem. It gives them inclusion out in the community working," Akin told QMI Agency.
Canada Post insists CRIA wasn't given any special preference based on its mandate to help adults with disabilities integrate into the workforce. Instead, they simply had the best business proposal.
"For us it's about keeping the mail delivery services in the community and we take that very seriously," said Anick Losier, spokeswoman for Canada Post. "They remained the best option. Which I think is great."
Losier added, "We think it's great that the community is embracing this. We're excited for them, It's a great way to keep the post office in the community."
The CIRA hopes to expand the post office to include a retail section and has set its sights on converting the top floor of the house into apartments for some of the postal workers.
"I think that's going to be a great experience too," Akin told the Annapolis County Spectator about the apartments. "It creates independence which is our goal."