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Edmonton social enterprise provides a helping hand to customers and employees

Click to play video 'A look at the work being done by Boyle Street Ventures Inc.' A look at the work being done by Boyle Street Ventures Inc.
WATCH ABOVE: Vinesh Pratap takes a look at the work being done by Boyle Street Ventures Inc. and the impact it is having in Edmonton – Dec 24, 2019

The day after a snowfall, Diane Dowhaniuk doesn’t have to worry about clearing her walkway; an Edmonton social enterprise is at her service.

“I’m just so glad that people are out there that aren’t hesitant to come and help people in need,” Dowhaniuk explains.

Life has presented challenges to Dowhaniuk and her husband. He has stage-four lung cancer, she has issues with her knees.

It makes the backbreaking work of shovelling snow a challenge.

Initially, the Dowhaniuks hired a for-profit contractor. The company took $100, but didn’t show up after.

The couple then learned about the service being offered by Boyle Street Ventures through its “hiregood” affiliate.

“We’ve partnered up with the City of Edmonton,” says the social enterprise’s Jodi Phelan. “They’ve provided us funding to offer the service to Edmontonians who have low mobility.”

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The grant is worth $25,000 and is part of a pilot program for this winter season.

WATCH: Boyle Street Moving Co. makes a difference to those on the fringes

As a social enterprise, hiregood also works to generate its own revenue.

“A lot of people, they do need help,” Phelan says.

Work has steadily grown to the point that there are now 20 people on payroll who provide services like snow removal in the winter months.

One of those people is William Thiessen.

“Before, I was homeless for roughly half a year,” says Thiessen. “[Boyle Street Ventures] kind of got me back up on my feet.”

Thiessen has a place and is even thinking about going back to college with an interest in structural engineering.

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“We hire people with barriers to employment,” Phelan says. “So we provide the service, we get paid for it and all the money goes back into our program and back into Boyle Street Community Services.”

For his part, Thiessen is grateful for the work and the skills he’s learning along the way. But beyond that, he’s happy to help clients like the Dowhaniuks.

“If you have a chance to help someone, I really think you should,” he says.