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“You have the answers to your life”

October 22, 2012

Computer time with Steve

Triangle Community Resources Inc. started in 1998 working with people who face multiple barriers to employment, helping them learn life skills and increasing their employability. A private company, Triangle was started by its owner, Brian Chiasson, because the resources he himself had once needed were not available. Its three pillars are ‘motivation, inspiration and success’.

Funding for the operation of Triangle comes from the government of BC and any funding left at the end of the year is returned to the government. Hence, a private company that never makes a profit but does make a difference in the lives of the people it serves. Team leader Lorraine Murdoch met with me a few weeks back and showed me around the cheerful facility in Langley. Photographs of alumni hang in her office. Lorraine says, “we meet people where they are at and make sure their needs are met”. Sometimes, this is as simple as standing outside with them while they have a coffee or a cigarette. It often includes ongoing support once they leave Triangle.

Anyone can go to Triangle where they receive an assessment as to their needs. Sometimes they are referred to other more specialized agencies such as those dealing with additions, youth or immigration. If they are accepted into Triangle, depending on their needs, they may participate in a four-week training program that helps them learn life skills, make appropriate career choices and healthy living choices. They learn teamwork, goalmaking and money management. They are helped to understand some of the barriers to their employment and how to address them. This may be as basic as learning how to communicate on a more effective level, such as writing proper emails, or realizing the importance of showing up to work on time. They can practice their newly acquired skills while at Triangle, reinforcing them in a safe environment. Depending on the assessment, they may also be eligible to receive money for job training, boots, equipment or transportation.

The reason that I connected with Triangle is that I attended a meeting on behalf of Dress for Success, an organization that I volunteer with and have written about in this blog. Lorraine and Brian also attended. When I subsequently met with Lorraine and her staff, Steve and Daniela, for the purposes of this blog post, they raved about the positive impact Dress for Success had on their clients. Steve says that much of what Triangle does is work to change clients’ attitude and outlook as they often engage in a lot of negative self-judgment. The reward is seeing the female clients transformed by their new Dress for Success clothes, surrounded by friends and family, and brimming with confidence from their new skills. Unfortunately, funding is no longer available for Triangle staff to take their female clients to the Dress for Success office in Vancouver and costs and psychological impediments mean the clients usually do not go there on their own accord. A Dress for Success office in the Fraser Valley, and an equivalent service for men, would be a hugely positive move.

Lorraine Murdoch with staff member

The dedication of the Triangle staff is evident. Daniela talks about the rewards they get from seeing people change their lives, even in small ways. Many of their clients have never had support and knowing that people care about them is the reason so many clients keep in touch long after passing through Triangle. Steve tells clients that ‘you have the answers to your life, you just need some tools’. He says clients receive dignity and support at Triangle; they gain a sense of belonging and self-worth. He is often made aware of how life’s circumstances can impact anyone. A recent client was about to start her professional career when a number of tragedies struck her family. Unable to cope, she retreated for many years but through Triangle is slowly piecing her life back together. Another client, very resistant to change and unwilling to participate, after a week of sitting silently in the group sessions said “I just want to say something. I was completely against coming here but now I am so grateful for being here. I need a home version of you guys. What will I do without you?”

Please come back to visit.

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