Chris, Lynne, and Michael all faced significant challenges to employment and each have their own horror stories to tell about short-term menial jobs, and employers who don’t understand that on some days they simply could not get out of bed.
Michael says he had almost lost hope. “I have been diagnosed with depression and [even though I’d submit] applications to every business hiring, they didn’t return calls. When you get no answer and you’ve got depression, you kind of lose hope and just stop caring.”
When given an opportunity to participate in a special employment program of Open Sky Co-operative that focused on creating co-ops for people with employment barriers, Michael, Lynne, and Chris jumped at the chance to participate.
As a partner on this program, CECNB developed a special training program that introduced participants to the worker co-op business model and helped build their knowledge to start one. Michael, Lynne, and Chris struck on the idea of establishing a commercial cleaning worker co-op that would “provide living wages and sustainable employment to people who face barriers”. They did their market research and incorporated The Powerhouse Worker Co-operative in early 2017.
“Each one of us had something to add to the company. Lynn had the idea to begin with because she knew there was no local cleaning company. Chris is more of the co-operative's face as he’s more willing to mingle and talk to people. For me, I have my willingness to learn. And I do the books.”