February 06, 2015 - 3:54 PM
VERNON - The Salvation Army is reducing the number of employee positions at its Vernon thrift stores as a way to put more money back into the community.
It wasn’t an easy decision, says Captain Jean-Curtis Plante, with the Salvation Army, but it had to be done. The non-profit has been struggling financially since at least 2008, the recent closure of its Talkin’ Donkey Coffee Shop proof of the hard times.
“It’s not about us, it’s about the need. We’ve seen such an influx in need in the community, we’ve had to make difficult choices,” Plante says. “We had to ask, what can we eliminate, what can we do differently?”
Over the last year-and-a-half, demand at the Salvation Army Food Bank has grown significantly—Plante estimates there are over 100 additional people using the service on a monthly basis. But without overhauling operations, there’s not enough money to meet that need.
“We had to ask, how do we react to that?” Plante says. “We decided to reevaluate our expenses and revenues, and one thing we noticed was some duplication and some challenges with staffing.”
The non-profit broke the news to employees this week it would be restructuring staffing levels to reduce the overall number of workers. Plante says there are 33 employees for Vernon’s two thrift stores, food bank, and children and families program, including a number of part-time and casual positions. The new model will see an increase in full-time employees with an overall reduction in the total staff positions.
“We feel very confident it’s the right thing to do when we weigh out the needs. We have a responsibility to the community to do our best to ensure every cent the community donates is put to the best use possible,” Plante says.
It’s not the first big change the Salvation Army announced recently. Last March, it decided to close down the Talkin’ Donkey Coffee House due to financial pressure. It just wasn’t sustainable anymore.
“Pulling the plug on the Talkin’ Donkey was an emotional process last year,” Plante says. “And we realized it wasn’t enough, we needed to make bigger changes.”
Plante assures the public none of the Salvation Army’s services will be disrupted by the changes. If anything, they will only benefit.
“We won’t be cutting anything. We’re wanting to free up funding for our programs,” Plante says.
The new staff positions will be advertised sometime in March.
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