Hovanes Community Services Ltd. is helping people with varying abilities through the Oliver-based business The Painted Chair.
Thanks to funding provided by Community Living BC, The Painted Chair operates as a “creative profit-sharing workplace” for adults with developmental disabilities. The business is now in its eight year of operation.
“We work with adults with ‘diversabilities’ – that’s the term we’re using these days – and we upcycle simple wood furniture… we sand it, we refinish it, we paint it, we put in on the floor and sell it, then the participants get the profit,” said Ron Hovanes, founder of Hovanes Community Services Ltd. alongside his wife, Tara. “We also have a boutique clothing shop, and they share in all of those profits as well.”
Any clothing or furniture donations that The Painted Chair can’t accept are redirected to other community organizations within the area so nothing goes to waste. A number of community volunteers also work with the business and participants.
The business has become more than a workplace for the program participants, however, as many will use the space to gather for special events such as shared meals, men’s night, and women’s day.
“I like it because it’s helped calm me down a little bit,” said Phillip Mullis, one of the program participants. “Before I came here, I was all confused about where I was supposed to go. So when I started out here I actually felt like I could do something, and I’m actually pretty good at it.”
Ravi Bahniwal, another program participant, explained that he knew other participants from their time together in high school. He was also looking for a program to join in his spare time.
“I love interacting with customers, that’s why I started coming here,” said Bahniwal.
“I didn’t want to sit around, I needed to do something,” said Kai Zelter, a program participant.
All three agreed they liked learning how to upcycle and repurpose furniture, but they also valued being able to socialize and spend time with one another. The program operates as a drop-in for participants so they aren’t required to come every day that the store is open.
The Painted Chair recently celebrated Community Living Month with a community barbecue and live artwork demonstration with program participants and artists from the surrounding community. Together they painted a number of wooden chairs that are now on sale at the store for $25 each.
The Painted Chair is open Wednesday’s and Saturday’s and “any other day by chance” said Hovanes. It is located at 5857 Sawmill Road, Oliver.
For more information about The Painted Chair, visit the company’s Facebook page.
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Jordyn Thomson | Reporter
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