A taste of homemade apple pie can take many of us back to our pasts and in a Parksville kitchen it’s helping people who’ve struggled with addictions and mental challenges, find a healthier future.
The Pie Factory is putting people to work who would usually be the last to be hired and first to be fired, and in the process change the recipe of their lives.
With the hard work of people who were once counted out, Parksville’s Pie Factory is turning out tasty towering pies that are proving as good for the soul as they are for the tastebuds.
” It sure beats where I was before,” says employee Jennifer Southall. “In Victoria I was a homeless person and suffered heart disease and mental illness.”
50 to 100 pies are turned out of The Pie Factory every day, by workers once referred to as unemployable that this employability program is pie by pie setting out to change.
“Our client group tends to be maybe the ones that are the last hired and the first fired in a lot of cases because they are working full time so what we try to do is help them re-define how they work,” says Executive Director of Volunteer Nanaimo, Marjorie Driscoll.
The workers are paid, but this is not a 9 to 5 grind. Due to the workers mental challenges they work supporting each other, in a less stressful environment than a typical restaurant atmosphere.
“This is my third week and it is fantastic,” says Jake Thomas.
Thomas learned about this program while getting radiation treatment for cancer and says this is giving him a second chance.
“It’s nice being around people I can relate to. People who have been through the mental health system who understand the difficulties with employment and also maybe someone has a housing crisis or someone has just a bad day everyone else here understands right,” says Thomas.
All the while building their confidence, kitchen skills, and pride in what they do at a non-profit that’s become a hit with locals.
“These pies are fantastic. We fed 40 guys last night and there wasn’t a pie left,” says Gerald Ferguson of the Parksville Fire Dept.
The pie factory has only been in business in Parksville for six months, and already other communities are enquiring about how they can bring the model elsewhere. As people once told they weren’t right for the workplace, find purpose and happiness in pie.