Horizon centre seeks to raise $1.7M for training tools at new facility

·2 min read
Katie Kelly, a client at the Horizon Achievement Centre, and Carol Pendergast, the centre's executive director, say the old tools won't be brought to the new centre.  (Brittany Wentzell/CBC - image credit)
Katie Kelly, a client at the Horizon Achievement Centre, and Carol Pendergast, the centre's executive director, say the old tools won't be brought to the new centre. (Brittany Wentzell/CBC - image credit)

An employment and training centre in Cape Breton is trying to raise $1.7 million for new equipment.

The Horizon Achievement Centre in Sydney, N.S., offers vocational training and employment help for adults with mental disabilities and people who face multiple barriers to working.

The centre will soon have a new building next to Open Hearth Park. Old equipment from the centre's current site will not be moved to the new space.

"A lot of the equipment here is well over ten, fifteen years old," said Carol Pendergast, executive director of the centre. "It's old and outdated. It doesn't provide the necessary skills for individuals who are seeking employment opportunities in the community."

Brittany Wentzell/CBC
Brittany Wentzell/CBC

Clients at the centre learn skills through social enterprises like catering on and off site, baking, mail services, and business services. The new centre will need tools like postage meters, industrial cutters, and industrial stoves, freezers, and mixers.

New kitchen equipment is top of mind for Katie Kelly, a client at the centre.

"I find it difficult to operate the can opener we have right now, I need to ask a staff member or client to help me," said Kelly, referring to a large industrial can opener that is operated by hand.

The centre offers catering to the general public. Kelly enjoys making cabbage rolls and serving tea and coffee. But the kitchen she often spends time in is well-worn.

"Any capital equipment that we use here has been purchased by the organization through their revenue. It's not a funded expenditure, so when we buy a piece of equipment, we definitely make it last as long as we possibly can," said Pendergast.

The new Horizon Achievement Centre will also be home to a coffee shop, operated by clients of the centre. Pendergast said that means clients will get to work on up-to-date cash registers and digital menu boards.

"More equipment that validates today's technology and today's equipment in the workforce is important, especially for the community employment department."

Kelly hopes to work in the new cafe.

"I like serving the customers and preparing the tea or coffee or baked goods," said Kelly. "I am very excited to go into the new building."

The centre will do a mail-out campaign for fundraising. It's unclear if more social, in-person fundraising will be able to happen during the pandemic. The money raised will also cover the costs to complete landscaping in front of the building.

The new Horizon Achievement Centre is set to open in January.

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