Break-in that cost $8K 'a reminder why we do what we do' for Winnipeg non-profit BUILD

The head of a Winnipeg non-profit organization that helps people who face barriers to employment get on-the-job training says he's more motivated than ever after the group was robbed earlier this week.

Art Ladd, executive director of Building Urban Industries for Local Development, or BUILD, said the windows of all nine of their trucks were broken when the team arrived at their compound on Main Street on Monday morning.

The more they looked around, the more damage they noticed. A hole had been cut in the fence. A trailer door had been partially ripped off. Hand tools were missing, as were two tires from one of the trucks.

The stolen items weren't worth a lot, but Ladd said the lost productivity and a morning spent cleaning instead of working on job sites cost BUILD, a non-profit contractor that provides training for people who might otherwise have trouble finding a job, around $8,000.

"I think more than anything, it's a reminder why we do what we do," Ladd said. "I mean, we train people with multiple barriers to employment, people with experience with Justice, people who are coming from a very down-and-out place in their lives, and we're preparing them for work.

"The individuals that did this are exactly the individuals — the types of individuals, rather — that we train."

It's not the first time the site has been robbed or vandalized, but Ladd said this break-in was "unprecedented" because of how much it cost to recover.

"For any private-sector company, an unexpected expense like this is going to hurt," he said. "But for us as a non-profit, it hurts just a little bit more."

A lot of BUILD employees have been through the justice system and come out facing barriers that can leave them feeling like they don't have any options, Ladd said.

"We provide them with the tools and the supports so they can re-integrate into society so they can find themselves gainfully employed instead of having to come across these barriers and just saying 'Screw, I'm going to go back to the life I know,'" Ladd said.

That's what he'd like to do for the people behind the break-in, too.

"Well, I'd want to see if they want a job," he said. "I mean, really, these are the exact types of folks that we want to be able to support and help transition into a different way of life."

Ladd said he's contacted Manitoba Public Insurance and the police, who have always caught the people behind other break-ins. He's confident they will this time, too.

BUILD's training program won't be impacted, Ladd said, and he's hoping the team can earn back lost funds.

"It's not going to impact our training program per se, but when we are able to generate a profit, that means we can re- invest into our organization, into our infrastructure, into our vehicles," he said.

"This just puts us back. It means we have to work a little bit harder and try and make up for that lost revenue."