IMPACT Construction’s head office is at 216 Duckworth,  where you’ll find mission control for the three remarkable social enterprises operated through Choices For Youth.

All various prongs in an attack on youth unemployment, poverty, and homelessness, the skills provided in each differ, but the aim is the same: provide support and training to transition at-risk youth through their current struggles, and into meaningful, gainful long term employment.

Role modeling is an important tool in the job of changing lives; I’ve  seen it in action when talking to youth involved in social enterprises. IMPACT has taken this to a new level. The operation is acting as a model of what a successful venture of this type can look like, and serving as an example for others to emulate.

The positive outcomes they’ve attained have made them a proving ground for the efficacy of social enterprise as a way to make a difference, even on the consumer level.

Starting 8 years ago as Train For Trades, the current program consists of 22 youth employees and 6 supervising trades people. These supervisors are unsung heroes. For the same pay they would receive for doing a job with only skilled peers, they opt to do  heavy labour while teaching skills to youth, and often acting as mentor and counselor.

Food, a caring ear, and honest answers from a respected adult on life’s storms … these are some of the things the supervisors provide to address challenges and create bonds, helping youth keep their minds on learning the trade.

Modeling work ethic and values like dependability consists of teaching people not just how to do a job, but how to properly quit if need be, and how to address concerns in the workplace to resolve conflict. All this, while ensuring quality workmanship, done on time.

IMPACT offers services “from excavation up,” and specializes in waste remediation. It has been involved in large and prestigious projects in their years of operation. Among them is the complete restoration of the Lilly on Bond Street, and their transformation of 216 Duckworth into the energy smart office building which they now call home.

Designed green and modern, but preserving the original character of the downtown building beautifully, it’s a visible success for them in the commercial district.

Supervisor Lee Harding makes it clear IMPACT’s work makes him proud, and the job rewards him more than enough to make up for the extra efforts it requires sometimes. Youth participants may be in training, but are job ready, and he’s thrilled to watch them learn and grow.

“Unless it puts our workers at risk, we’ll do any job you have for us,” he says of the types of inquiries IMPACT considers. Even small domestic jobs, which is excellent as I have a siding job I need done.”