CALGARY -- Sometimes, the best way to make a dream happen is to keep your hands busy.

It’s taken a month and a half to construct 24 beds and 24 cabinets for Alpha House and its new Lethbridge facility. In Calgary, where the furniture is being built, woodshop manager Clifford Viljoen has set up an unconventional assembly line to make the process run smoothly. 

Calgary Dream Centre woodshop manager Viljoen is used to having clients from the Dream Centre arrive with various woodworking abilities, in addition to a few personal demons. Some in fact, have more woodworking experience than him, while others have never swung a hammer.

The Calgary Dream Centre is a faith-based recovery organization. Its web site states that “We strive to guide men and women caught in cycles of homelessness and addiction into lives of purpose. Our mission is to help people restore their dignity, discover their destiny and realize their dreams.”

Social enterprise

One of its social enterprise programs is making and selling furniture made by clients. It’s custom work and while most projects are on a small scale, the Lethbridge furniture job was one of the biggest its taken on.

“I just love social enterprise,” said Jim Moore one of the founding members of the Calgary Dream Centre and its executive director. “I love being an entrepreneur in a non-profit business.”

The Alpha House order has been filled. The furniture will be delivered Thursday, with a team of clients from the Dream Centre who will help Viljoen assemble it.

For Dream Centre clients, whose lives have been marked by addiction, and all the challenges that presents, completing a sizeable order of furniture represents a personal step in the right direction.

“I think our heart is to do quality work,” said Viljoen. “We strive for excellence so you buy because you want and need it and you get the (inspiring) backstory as a bonus. That’s something that we really believe.”

The money earned from the sale of items made at the centre pays for supplies and goes right back into making the woodshop sustainable.

“And also it brings cash flow back into the Dream Centre so that we don’t have to walk around and have our hand out to the government all the time,” said Moore. “We can be a community partner with the government.”

Impacts lives

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MLA Jason Laun, associate minister of mental health and addiction was on hand to see the finished furniture for the new Alpha House facility in Lethbridge and is impressed with the work that went into the project by clients from the Dream Centre.

“More importantly it impacts the lives of people so they have something more positive to work towards,” said Luan. “Motivate them and that’s the tipping point of getting people changed.”

Laun took the opportunity to offer the Dream Centre a community grant to mitigate the impact of COVID 19:  $350,000 as a one-time support to increase the centre’s capacity by reaching out to more people.

Learn more about the Calgary Dream Centre here.