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Posted on Aug 14, 2013

Social Change in King’s County Phenomenal

Social Change in King’s County Phenomenal

By Michelle Strutzenberger, Axiom News

This story originally appeared on ENP Canada’s website.

ENP Canada has partnered with Axiom News to explore the Canadian social enterprise movement one story at a time. Each story will provide snapshots and profiles of local social enterprises and the emerging, supportive environment. This story is one of hundreds we will be publishing. Check in every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for the latest news.

Roger Tatlock is participating in the SEWF 2013 session called "Managing Finances: True Cost Accounting and Business Cost Recovery."

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Axiom News is also a SEWF 2013 media partner. 

Gareth changing the Career Resource Center reader board. Supported placements enable clients to practice the skills they learn in Flowercart programs in their community.

Gareth changing the Career Resource Center reader board. Supported placements enable clients to practice the skills they learn in Flowercart programs in their community.

When Roger Tatlock started in the developmental services field at the age of 19, Flowercart was serving people who have an intellectual disability in a facility-based program only.

Now, people who have an intellectual disability find a job at minimum wage or better every two to three days thanks to Flowercart’s support.

“The social change that has occurred in King’s County, Nova Scotia in just my work-life is phenomenal.” Roger says.

Flowercart is a non-profit that promotes community participation by adults considered to have an intellectual disability through supported training and employment.

People who have an intellectual disability are able to purchase support they need to be successful in their work from Flowercart.

Roger says support is critical in the sustained economic inclusion of people who have an intellectual disability.

“It’s been proven over and over that our clientele do not lose their job because they can’t do it. They lose their job because they don’t have the supports that other people take for granted every day.”

About 50 people come to Flowercart every day to work at jobs the organization has created through its entrepreneurship. Flowercart's products and services include Baker's Choice Fine Foods, catering, and packaging for other local companies.

During the 2010-2011 fiscal year Flowercart raised 50.2 per cent of its approximately $3.14 million operating revenue from sales of its products and services.

The founding documents and vision of the founders and original board members have been integral to this success, Roger says.

Jennifer at work

Jennifer at work

The dream from the beginning was for people who have an intellectual disability to contribute to the labour force in King’s County, making enough to sustain themselves and live independently.

While that vision has stayed the same over the years, a regional labour shortage has resulted in new opportunities to make it more possible to turn this dream into reality. Government forecasts are that by 2021 half of Nova Scotia’s adult population will be retired, and around 2030 one in eight jobs in the province will go unfilled.

There is a new willingness from employers to hire people who have an intellectual disability.

“Employers are far more open to thinking about solutions to their production labour problems in different ways, and we’ve been there to take advantage of that,” Roger says.

To make the most of these opportunities, Flowercart has had to become more business savvy, he says.

“Because we’re a human service historically, we need to talk the language of the employer better.”

Becca working at Acadianna Soy Products

Becca working at Acadianna Soy Products

Today, the entrepreneurial flair of the organization has been noted by new staff coming from a social services background.

An ongoing challenge for Flowercart is operating as a hybrid.

“We regularly talk about the balance between human service and business,” Roger says.

“You always have to provide excellent human service and, of course, if you want to stay in business, you have to provide excellent service to customers.”

More About Roger Tatlock

Executive Director, The Flower Cart

Roger Tatlock 2Currently: Since 1992 Roger has been the Executive Director of The Flower Cart. The Flower Cart is a vocational service provider for adults considered intellectually disabled. The Flower Cart, located in New Minas, is in its 41st year of operation. 

Background: Roger is a graduate of Acadia University with a Bachelor of Science degree with a Specialization in Mental Retardation, as the program was called then. He has worked in the field of services to people with an intellectual disability for over 30 years; including vocational and residential services and as an instructor in a community college program that prepares people to work in human services. 

Personal: Originally from Glace Bay, Cape Breton. Roger lives in Wolfville. In his spare time he enjoys kayaking, weight lifting, road biking and refereeing basketball. Married for over 25 years, Roger has two adult children and a grandson, Landon. Roger was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal by the Government of Canada in the summer of 2012.

More About Enterprising Non-Profits, enp:

enpEnp supports the development and growth of social enterprises.  Enp provides resources, technical assistance, workshops, grants and is collaborating on creating an enabling environment for social enterprise across Canada.

More About Axiom News:

Basic CMYKWe believe there is great power in storytelling. It’s an enabler of strengths, a catalyst for change and a means to propel people and organizations to an inclusive, harmonious and prosperous future, a place where they have their greatest impact.

While storytelling is our skill and occupation, it’s driven by our hopes and aspirations for a better world.

With each organization we serve we take a step towards a better world, a thriving world. It’s our collective efforts to serve a purpose greater than ourselves that will affect The World We Want to See.

Together, we can change the paradigm of what is possible. We can demonstrate through an abundance of personal, practical stories a better way, a strengths-based way to a brighter future.