Real estate agents Lee Gauthier and Mark Dennys share a laugh while filling up a wheelbarrow of firewood at Abbey Gardens on Thursday Nov. 3. The wood is for the Heat Bank which distributes it to families in need throughout the winter. This is the second year that real estate agents have come together to do this project organized by Lakelands Association of Realtors. JENN WATT Staff

Ready for Retail program coming together

By Darren Lum

Published March 6 2018

It was only three days into the training and for facilitators and participants the benefits of SIRCH Community Services’ Ready for Retail – Training for Excellence were already apparent.

From now until May 14 seven Ready for Retail participants will earn certifications (customer service first aid/CPR and WHMIS) receive retail training and put what they learn into practice. This week they will open and operate the Thrift Warehouse at 128 Mallard Rd. off of Industrial Park Road in Haliburton from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Tuesday. Each day there will giveaways activities discounts and “freebies.”

Participants in this pilot program will learn how to operate the Thrift Warehouse including taking inventory accounting for donations helping customers and using the cash register.
Representatives from SIRCH City of Kawartha Lakes and the John Howard Society and Fleming College are facilitating.

The program’s training co-ordinator Dianne Woodcock has been impressed by how the group has come together.

“They are engaged. They are excited. They participate. We did some basic training at the beginning to sort of get their brains in gear: about how they learn and how to best manage the team they are with. Then we’ve gone into some sensitivity training and now we’re into customer service training” she said.
The in-class training is being held at the SIRCH location on Victoria Street and at the Haliburton Highlands Museum.

The 8000-square-foot Thrift store will include the pilot program’s participants Tuesdays; it ensures the greatest potential for customer service interactions Woodcock said.

“Because we want it to be successful right out of the gate it’s easier to pass the message out to people who are already in the habit of going there. It really was how can we maximize the success of the program” she said. “That seemed to make the most sense to us.”

Participants range in age from 18 to 58 and everyone shares a desire to improve their employment standing.

Eighteen-year-old Sadie Lissemore is a HHSS graduate. She saw this training as an opportunity to gain skills and experience.

“I really like the people. They’re really great [as is] all that we’ve been learning” she said.

The teen moved to Haliburton from Cayuga Ont. when she was nine. She said she appreciated the sensitivity training.

“It opens up your eyes on the empathy and sympathy you should have for other people” she said.
Her previous work experience included the Rails End Gallery. She will be going to college this September and will study to be an esthetician.

Several local retailers have committed to participating in the program through job shadow tours or in providing a speaker to the group for half a day in April.

Haliburton’s Tyler Baux 19 an HHSS graduate was interested in growing as a person and enhancing his job skills.

When he worked at Solid State Computer Solutions in Haliburton he said he was unsure of himself when answering the phone often handing the receiver to someone else. Now he said his confidence has improved. That has motivated him to continue with the training.

So far the highlight for Baux has been the sense of teamwork. Before the training started he only knew his friend Corey Gonyea of Minden who is also going to college for web design in autumn.
Gonyea who shares the same sense of development was interested in the program to market himself better for employers. It’s been great to meet new people and he said he looks forward to working with them at the warehouse. His previous work experience was construction which didn’t test his social skills.

Both say they’re more introverted which they discovered in the true colours personality test. They had already noticed a boost in their confidence in the three days of training.

Woodcock said what Baux and Gonyea describe is what she has noticed for the entire group.
“One of the big things is they really feel like they are a team” she said.