January 28, 2018 6:46 pm
Updated: January 28, 2018 9:26 pm

Boyle Street moving company expands to include cleaning services and food truck

WATCH ABOVE: An Edmonton moving company has been putting some of our city's most vulnerable to work. It's also been changing lives by helping to break the cycle of poverty. But now - Boyle Street Ventures is expanding and has big plans for the future. Kim Smith explains.

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The Boyle Street Moving Company, which has been putting dozens of Edmonton’s most vulnerable youth to work, has expanded due to its success.

“It’s grown immensely,” Jodi Phelan Zago, a manager with Boyle Street Ventures, said. “We’ve had many success stories and we hope to see a lot more in the future.”

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Boyle Street Community Services, which provides support and services to homeless people in Edmonton, has launched several new social enterprise programs including cleaning services, junk removal, window cleaning and snow shovelling.

“It’s nice because we can offer a package for someone to come in. We can do the move, a junk removal, and then cleaning. So it’s all in a neat little package,” Phelan Zago said.

This summer, it plans to launch a food truck.

READ MORE: ‘It’s an opportunity for me’: Moving company puts Edmonton’s most vulnerable to work

“Our youth have gone and done food and safety training already, so that they’re available to work on it,” Phelan Zago said.

“They’re getting together menus and getting all the safety inspections up to par, so we can get out there and that’ll be a whole another business for us.”

Since launching about two years ago, the moving company has employed about 60 vulnerable youth.

“They’re kids who’ve had maybe a rough childhood, who’ve gone through the system, or who have ended up in early adulthood being homeless or leaving foster care” Phelan Zago said. “We have a lot of kids who end up homeless at Boyle Street looking for the services.”

“These kids didn’t ask to be there. They just need an opportunity and we’re able to provide that for them.”

READ MORE: Boyle Street warming bus back on the road thanks to $61,000 donation

Will Thiessen, 20, has been working for the Boyle Street Moving Company for a year and a half. He’s one of about a dozen current employees.

“I’m absolutely proud,” he said. “To me, it’s a personal accomplishment being able to hold down a job as long as I have.”

“It also feels good to tell people, I’ve helped to build Boyle Street’s Moving Company to what it is.”

He described his life as “much more stable” since being hired full-time.

“It used to be very short-term housing. I was bouncing around from one place to another, but now I have my own apartment. I’ve got a long-term lease,” Thiessen said.

“Overall, I just feel more competitive in the work world.”

READ MORE: Inner-city organization tracks visits to Edmonton centre in groundbreaking open data project

The goal over the next couple of years is to have a thousand people go through the Boyle Street Ventures program. The plan is to hire older clients as well as youth.

“We’re just trying to break that cycle of poverty,” Phelan Zago said. “We try and guide them on professionalism and proper social skills. If they want to start their own business, we can guide them along to be productive, successful people.”

Boyle Street Moving Company has about three moves booked daily. For more information call 780-426-0500 or email info@boylestreetmoving.com.

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