The St. Vincent de Paul (SSVP) Thrift Store team held a recognition event to celebrate the installation of its new and accessible automatic door on Saturday, June 17, 2023.
The Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) recently awarded the Society with a $10,400 Capital grant to be used for the door and its installation.
Brantford’s St. Vincent de Paul (SSVP) Thrift Store has been operating out of its 143 Wellington Street location since 2018, and upgrading the door was one of the last improvements needed to be made to the store since its purchase.
“When you enter the building, you come into a lobby and then we have interior doors leading into the thrift store,” said Rob Campbell, President of the SSVP Particular Council of Brant. “This door did not automatically open and so getting the automated door was really the last box to check off of all the improvements we wanted to make since we bought the building five years ago.”
Campbell says that having a more accessible space allows visitors to feel independent and welcome.
“It can really erode a person’s dignity when they need assistance and can’t feel independent when going in and out of the store and this just provides that additional affirmation,” he said. “When some of the people coming to the store are the very people that we’re helping, they already have that heightened sense of vulnerability and we don’t want to do anything that would increase that feeling. It’s really very important to have that independence, sense of belonging and inclusion.”
Will Bouma, MPP for Brantford-Brant and Teresa Percival, an Ontario Trillium Foundation volunteer were both present to lend their support during the recognition event.
“I am pleased that the Ontario Trillium Foundation is supporting the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in their efforts to becoming more accessible for people of all abilities,” said Bouma. “It is said that history will judge our community by how the most vulnerable are treated, and with this grant by the OTF, we are another step closer to helping all people that we serve.”
Campbell thanked the OTF and noted that the grant allows SSVP to continue their mission to serve those in need.
“We are greatly indebted to the Ontario Trillium Foundation for their support,” he said. “This grant allows us to better live up to our mission of serving our neighbours with love, justice, joy and respect by increasing accessibility for all who visit our store.”
The SSVP Thrift Store also celebrated being able to reopen on Saturday’s as of April, after the pandemic and a lack of volunteers caused the store to remove it’s Saturday hours.
“We are also delighted to once again be open on Saturdays, allowing more flexibility for shoppers and those we serve,” said Campbell.
The SSVP Thrift Store serves over 2000 homes every year and numbers have been steadily increasing since the pandemic
“We’ve seen a real escalation in the need from 2021 to 2022, which is the last full year that we have statistics for and we’ve seen at a further spike this year,” said Campbell. We went to 2700 homes during the course of the last calendar year and that was up from the previous 2200 the year prior and we know we’re going to be exceeding that this year. The donations, grants and the sales from the thrift store are what keep us running and are able to help provide emergency assistance for the community.”