WATCH ABOVE: Earlier this year Vivian Keels opened Karibu Thrift Store, a second chance for clothes outgrown or no longer in style. She’s also giving a second chance to the six part-timers and two volunteers she trains — all who have varying levels of abilities. Susan Hay has more in this week’s Making a Difference.
TORONTO — Karibu Thrift Store, a secondhand shop that provides quality used clothing and household items at discounted prices, is giving second chances and life-changing opportunities to people with varying levels of abilities.
Nine months ago, Vivian Keels decided to open up this store in Scarborough and named it after the Swahili word for “Welcome.”
Little did she know at the time, that it would be a life-changing experience.
“I found myself unemployed about two and a half years ago,” said Keels.
“I had worked in the field of development services for more than 30-years, and so I decided to open a thrift store and hire people with development disabilities.”
Paulette Cross is the Manager of Services at Corbrook, an organization that provides opportunities for meaningful work and personal development for people with varying levels of abilities.
“Currently, there’s over 70 per cent of our population of people with disabilities that are not in the work force,” said Cross, who connected people with Karibu for employment opportunities.
“So definitely, [there] is a high need for more employers to really give opportunities to people with disabilities to contribute back to their communities.”
Karibu promotes opportunities for individuals to gain on-the-job training and employment experience.
“The store is very important to me because it gives employment to six people who otherwise would be sitting at home,” said Keels.
While on the clock, these dedicated employees do everything from steaming, cleaning, organizing shoes and racks of clothing, to taking in donations.
Rosario Tagoe is the mother of an employee at Karibu. She never thought her son, Randy, would be employed when he was diagnosed with Autism.
“He’s always happy coming here because Karibu and Vivian, is like family for him,” said Tagoe.
“They treat him well, without discrimination.”
In total, Keels currently has six part-time employees and four volunteers.
“I come to work to see family,” said Keels. “They’re family, they’re friends, they’re wonderful.”
Karibu accepts a variety of donations.
To donate, Keels asks you to call her store (416-855-2400) or click here to view a list of items they accept.
© 2015 Shaw Media