Apricity Clothing chooses the Gathering Place as a gateway in helping people struggling with homelessness and mental health issues.
The Gathering Place’s slogan says “Kindness wanted,” and that is exactly what Mary Crane wanted to show when she began her journey as an entrepreneur.
Mary has been successfully running her business, Apricity Clothing, for six months. On Wednesday, Jan. 24, Joanne Thompson, executive director at the Gathering Place, accepted a donation valued at ten per cent of the clothing company’s sales.
There are 760 people who volunteer at the Gathering Place. Thompson doesn’t know an example of a program like that anywhere in Canada. It is a model based on a program in Ottawa but it still remains unique to any other program across the country.
“We have the ability to be really sensible and to be nimble,” said Thompson. “If we see a need, we run to it. We can do this. If we always had to wait for the government, we would never be able to help as much as we do. We just jump in because the need is there.”
Crane realized people needed help and that some people could not get it without the community around them.
“The more I seen and heard about homelessness and mental illness, the more I wanted to stop thinking about a way to help people and actually begin to do it.”
People at the Gathering Place get support and that is why they are successful, but the need is always there. Without continuous support, (the) services and programs would not be able to run smoothly.
She saw a need in her community and knew that it was possible to make a difference.
“I chose the Gathering Place because of the large amount of people they help feed and keep warm every day. They are always working on more ways that they can provide help to anyone who needs it.”
“I want to help people. At the end of the day, if it is only one person that I help, that is okay.”
Crane knew she wanted to start a small business that made her some profit but also supported others. That’s when she decided to take the leap and create her brand.
She wanted to offer clothing at an affordable price and with an incentive. By creating Apricity, she could offer both.
The image of the business was important to Mary and she wanted her brand to portray warmth and something to help people receive shelter and food. This later gave her the idea for the name Apricity – which means, “warmth of the sun in winter.”
Over half of the money taken in annually by the Gathering Place comes from “peace” donations – donations from individuals and businesses. The government grants cover only a small amount of the necessary programs and services.
“Peace donations like Mary’s go directly into our services and our programs,” said Thompson.
Thompson stresses that even though monetary donations are crucial to the Gathering Place’s efforts to serve the community, kindness is just as important.
“We operate in an open system so there is no Plexiglas, no separation and no buzzers. This truly embodies a comfortable place, and there is a true sense of identity and safety here for every guest that comes through the door.”