Renaissance reinvents Montreal’s donations to fulfill a triple bottom line.
By: Jillian Clark – mtltimes.ca
It’s time to start prepping your spring cleaning for a good cause.
Many Montrealers know of Renaissance as a great place to find awesome treasures. Like other used stores, Renaissance takes gently used donations to be sold to the public at a small price. But Renaissance takes community support one step further.
Renaissance’s triple bottom line sets this non-profit organization apart from your typical Montreal frippery. Founder, Pierre Legault built Renaissance with social integration, our ecological footprint and low costs in mind. “We are trying to contribute at different levels, not just economically,” Legault says.
Renaissance generates jobs and training. “We are helping people on the social dimension,” Legault explains. Renaissance runs a program designed for low-income Montrealer’s and new immigrants with the goal of helping these individuals gain the experience and tools necessary to find and retain jobs. “We help people regain their strength and capacity to work, so in 6 months they can find a job and keep it,” says Legault. Renaissance helps people “regain their self-esteem, and start to be able to live.”
Renaissance reuses your donations. “In the environmental and ecological dimensions, we are using the [donated] goods so that they don’t end up in landfills,” Legault explains. Montrealers can donate at any of Renaissance’s 33 collection points, or in store. It’s a “Renaisssance in the chain of consumption.” It’s the literal rebirth of donated items as they become treasures with new homes.
“Economically speaking, we provide goods at a minimal price,” says Legault. “Everybody’s winning.” All types of people shop at Renaissance. Even the low prices are enough to drive Renaissance’s main goal: training employees to become active members of Montreal’s workforce.
During his time with Montreal Harvest, a non-profit food bank, Legault came across many individuals who had been out of work for an extended time. He found people who wanted to work, but were stuck without experience. Through the Renaissance training program, participants work for minimum wage, all while tackling gradually increasing challenges.
“There is a strong entrepreneurial spirit to the organization,” says Legault. “We are very strong on autonomy… and also self-respect.” A full-time work and a stable job gives each of a sense of purpose. Through work we gain confidence, set and reach goals, and socialize. But to find a stable job, employees need stable experience and training. Renaissance extends this opportunity to everyone.
Renaissance holds regular donation campaigns in the form of “friendly competitions” between boroughs. The next campaign begins on April 24th and runs until May 21st. All of Montreal’s boroughs are invited to donate used goods, and take time to shop at one of Renaissance’s locations. Prizes will be allocated to the borough who donates the most per 1000 residents, most donations overall, or most improved from previous years.
Not sure what to donate? Just think of things you might buy yourself. “Give us what you would give a friend, something that still has some life in it.” All of the fun of fripperies is the unique items you might uncover.
“I think I have the best job in the world,” Legault beams. “We help people and the community has really adopted us.”
Renaissance does all it can for the community because of its residents. “We would like to thank the population for their generosity,” Legault expresses. “We are very grateful for the way we are supported.” Without donations, Renaissance couldn’t exist.