Our August Member Spotlight is on The Flower Cart Group. When we talked to Executive Director, Jeff Kelly, he highlighted one of the biggest reasons he gets excited about coming to work everyday:
“…It is an organization that ‘works with purpose’ and empowers people to realize their own strengths and encourages creativity and fun.”
Read on to learn more about The Flower Cart Group, their four social enterprises and almost 50 years of community impact!
Interview with Jeff Kelly – Executive Director of The Flower Cart Group
What is the overall social and/or environmental mission?
The Flower Cart Group promotes community participation of adults considered to have an intellectual disability through supported employment and training.
How many social enterprises does your organization run?
- Baker’s Choice Fine Foods
- Flowercart Industries
- What’s Cooking Commercial Kitchen and Co-Pack
- The Flower Cart Group Contracted Labour Services
A brief history
The Flower Cart was established in the fall of 1970. With the assistance of the Kings County School Board and the Provincial Department of Social Services, the former New Minas Elementary School was selected as the site for an activity centre that focused on work-related training. By 1972, seventeen individuals were participating in a year-round program.
Over the years The Flower Cart developed into a vocational training and supported employment service. The focus was and continues to be, the provision of a wide range of vocational options to meet the abilities and needs of the individuals using our service. These options included full and part training in the vocational centre, as well as paid and voluntary work experience opportunities in the community.
In 2016, in recognition of the organization’s evolution into a diverse collection of socially-minded businesses (social enterprises), Flower Cart was re-branded as The Flower Cart Group. The Flower Cart name has been retained in the form of Flowercart Industries.
Currently The Flower Cart Group provides supported employment and training to approximately 155 adults considered to have an intellectual disability or barrier to employment across Kings County.
What would you consider to be your biggest success story(ies)?
Over the 48 years of operation there has been many success stories from The Flower Cart Group. Clients of The Flower Cart Group have had several opportunities to work and train in community settings, make several long lasting friendships, gain a greater understanding of their skills and abilities, and work towards their individual vocational goals in a supported and accommodating setting.
We also provide very valuable service to local companies such as Farmer John’s Herbs, Just Us! Coffee Roasters Co-op and Made With Local. These companies have benefited greatly in partnering with The Flower Cart Group.
However, one particular story does stand out. The Flower Cart Group has a very successful contracted labour services agreement with Michelin Tire North America (Waterville, NS Plant). The organization supports 42 clients in paid work opportunities at the plant. Three years ago, because of the support and training we provided a client, they were able to successfully contest the application process and become a Michelin Flex Worker. This was a huge life changing event for them and their family.
What gets you excited about coming to work every day?
I get excited about working in an organization that provides vocational opportunities to adults that would otherwise be challenged to find these opportunities. It is an organization that “works with purpose” and empowers people to realize their own strengths and encourages creativity and fun. This applies to clients and staff alike. We are a team working towards accomplishing the mission.
What is the promise you see in the future of social enterprise?
I see social enterprise gaining in popularity among Nova Scotians. I believe people are becoming more socially conscious and want to see their money going towards organizations that are not only motivated by profit, but also have a social purpose. I also see many younger entrepreneurs, the millennials, being motivated in this way, too. I believe there is a desire among many young budding entrepreneurs to engage in the “social shift” away from traditional capitalism to more purpose driven businesses – this is what social enterprise can provide.