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Inspirational business owners offer a hand up
Published Wednesday, January 9, 2013 12:30PM MST
Last Updated Wednesday, January 9, 2013 4:38PM MST
Staffing a full service car wash can be a challenge but one Calgary couple found a way to bridge their volunteer work and their business.
Philanthropy and volunteering were an important part of Andrew and Tracey Bitcon's lives before they opened two Bubbles Car Wash locations in Calgary.
They discovered their volunteer service with Inn from the Cold could have a major benefit for their new business.
Many of their employees are people they met through Inn from the Cold including recent immigrants.
“So we thought if we could give them that first job, a little bit of mentoring, a little bit of advocacy and then they could move on,” says Andrew Bitcon. “They could stay here or sometimes they move on to something bigger and better.”
Tracey Bitcon says it began with four applicants sent to them by Inn from the Cold.
“We hired them and that's been two years and they're still here working,” says Tracey. “They've all managed to get housing and their children are in school and it's just been fantastic.”
Estela Rejon, who came to Calgary from Mexico, is an employee at Bubbles Car Wash. She appreciates all that Inn from the Cold did for her and her children including introducing them to the Bitcons.
“It's better when you get a job and the owners of Bubbles helped us with this,” says Estela. “To have a job and then we can move to our own house.”
In 2012, Bubbles Car Wash was presented with the Calgary Philanthropist Award for Small Business.
Andrew says it's a great honour but the Bitcons don't look at what they're doing as great philanthropy.
“We like to say that we're offering a ladder and the people do their own climbing.”
It's not only Inn from the Cold clients who have been helped by the Bitcons.
Patrik Desbiens says he was a troubled youth when he was hired to work at Bubbles.
“They just kept giving me chances and giving me chances,” says Desbiens. “Eventually I just decided, hey, you know if they're willing to give me these chances, I may as well show them that I'm worth it.”
For their efforts to assist those who in need of a hand up, Andrew and Tracey Bitcon are this week's Inspiring Albertans.