SHOPS Grand Opening in Sherbrooke

By Rob Wolf    

SHERBROOKE – The Sherbrooke Opportunities Society (SHOPS) held its grand opening on Saturday, Oct. 27 at their bright new workshop in the community wing of St. Mary’s Education Centre/Academy. Dignitaries from all three levels of government, as well as SHOPS Manager and Facilitator Lyndsay Keefe, the SHOPS Executive Board, including Chair and emcee Keith Gallant, Vice-Chair Lynda Clarke, Treasurer Helen Gallant and Secretary Lisa MacDonald were joined by a standing-room-only crowd of community members in celebrating the opening of the facility – which was eight years in the making.

Central Nova MP Sean Fraser praised local volunteers for their efforts. “It is important to note the emphasis we are placing on rural development with facilities like this,” he said, adding that rural infrastructure projects are vital to the future of the country.

Guysborough-Eastern-Shore-Tracadie MLA Lloyd Hines made special mention of Colin “Duke” Coady who passed away last year, as one of the founding members of the project and a stalwart fundraiser and promoter of the initiative. He also congratulated all of the volunteers and the community for their dedication, quoting Mary Kay Ash, founder of the makeup empire: “Aerodynamically, the bumblebee shouldn’t be able to fly. It doesn’t know that and keeps on flying anyway.”

District of St. Mary’s Warden Mike Moser praised the three levels of government in coming together to see the project through, as well as the Strait Regional Centre for Education for their unwavering commitment to the project.

“Through many changes, and the ups and downs, we all worked together to make it happen,” said Mosher. “It is a lasting reminder to St. Mary’s, and our province and country, that looking after the needs of all citizens is what we’re all about.”

Lisa MacDonald, secretary for the SHOPS Executive, gave a brief history of the project, noting, “it all started eight years ago, when the School Advisory Council met to discuss the possibilities as we underwent the school amalgamation process.” One of the community members in attendance, Colin “Duke” Coady, presented the idea of a community workshop for those with disabilities, similar to the successful GOALS project in Guysborough.

“Duke was the first president of the society, he was a tireless promoter and worker, raising money and talking to everyone he could along the way to see the project through.” MacDonald noted that Coady passed away three months before $64,000 in project funding from the federal government and ACOA allowed the project to go forward.

A plaque of dedication for Coady was unveiled with the following inscription: Dreams are the seeds of change, nothing grows without a seed and nothing changes without a dream.

“Duke would be very proud of how this all came together and we owe a huge debt of gratitude to him,” said MacDonald.

SHOPS Manager and Facilitator Lyndsay Keefe welcomed everyone to the new facility, equipped with a full service kitchen, office space, and workshop area. She presented some of the programming available for SHOPS employees, including health and wellness training, computer skills, a mail out and document shredding service as well as participation in community events.

Employee Willie Taillon presented a slide presentation of some of the group’s activities, like the Canada Day Parade, visits to Sherbrooke Village and tending to their pumpkin patch – for the enjoyment of all present.

Currently the program runs three days a week, with plans to increase it to five days a week. Keefe says that they are also looking to expand the number of staff and employees.

“We are always looking to expand our offerings. We are open for business and looking to provide any services we are able to the public.”

For more information on the SHOPS program, email managers.h.o.p.s@outlook.com.