Horizon Achievement community asset in Sydney, Cape Breton

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Our newest Buy Social certified supplier is Horizon Achievement Centre. Located on the lovely Cape Breton Island, in Sydney, NS, Horizon Achievement centre is an impressive charitable nonprofit that helps employ persons with intellectual disabilities. Established in 1984, the Horizon Achievement Centre has established its place in this community as a leader in the delivery of services and employment options for people with disabilities and a prominent supplier of quality products and services to the Business Community. Recreational programming is funded partially through the social enterprises.

Horizon has over 7 social enterprises currently in operation including: banquet services, catering, bakery, mail services and printing, assembly and promotions, job placements and a variety of general contracts including button making, custom parts assembly, and much more!

We spoke to Amanda Burt, Financial Coordinator for the centre, about Horizon and their recent Buy Social Certification.

“We have many social enterprises,” says Burt. “when you mention Horizon Achievement Centre to people - they definitely know what it is, since we’ve been around for 30 years, but most don’t see how much work we do and all the different contracts we have. It’s non-stop all the time - and tax bill season is especially busy.”

So, we asked, what IS it that Horizon does? Amanda explains: “We do lots of catering - which includes hot food like cabbage rolls, meat balls, rices, and we have our own banquet space in which we provide catering for weddings and events. But we also provide off-site catering too. Plus we have an amazing bakery that provides the desserts, pies etc. for these events. We’ve been doing this for a while and quite a few people know about this.”

However, there’s a lot more Horizon does than catering.

“We also have a variety of general contracts” says Burt. We’re a distributor for Canada post for tax documents - we print, package and mail them each tax season… We have a few other large scale contracts too: we assemble screw mechanisms for sound panels - We’ve been doing them in orders in the 1000s of units; it’s a big project for us.”

It looks like lots of in house work in their facility with catering, assembly and more, but Horizon also works in the local community as well.

“We have canteens, like small coffee shops, in Revenue Canada and CRA buildings for the people who

The bakery is one of Horizon's social enterprises!

work in the office buildings there”, says Burt. “We employ our clients there and in community employment programs within the community. Lots of people work or volunteer in the community through our programs, and we offer a variety of opportunities that meet the clients’ needs in terms of time commitment, type of work and paid versus volunteer.”

Amanda Burt loves seeing the affect the social enterprise work has on the clients. “The clients love to prepare the food and then serve it - and the wedding party usually gives a big thank you speech to the catering staff. I like seeing the sense of accomplishment they get from helping put on such a big event for people. They get to see directly the positive affect they have on people.”

The biggest challenge, says Burt, is getting the message out to the community and consumers. “The biggest difficulty is getting decision-makers and other outside the organization understanding what social enterprise means. We’re not just selling products and services here - we’re changing lives. We’re in a residential area right now. Our new site will be more downtown, but right now it’s hard to see us and what we do.”

Horizon achievement is helping marginalized people feel like they’re valued and that they’re appreciated for their contributions, some for the first time in their lives. As Amanda sees it: “our catering department is so much more than just getting a tray at the grocery store.”

Amanda’s hoping the Buy Social certification will really help spread the message about the added benefits of Social Enterprise. “We’re hoping to get the awareness out there”, she says. It’s always good to partner with other organizations and be part of other initiatives, as much we can, like the Prosperity Framework and Sydney Downtown Business Commission. We’re hoping Buy Social will expand peoples’ expectations of what a Social Enterprise is. ”It’s kind of like buy local - and those kind of go hand in hand in my opinion - they’re both about supporting communities.”

To learn more about Horizon achievement, visit here.

To learn more about Buy Social Canada, visit here

The bakery is one of Horizon's social enterprises!