The Vancouver Island Workability Society has opened the Pie Factory on the Island Highway in Parksville. Above

Enjoy some pie, help people into workforce in Parksville Qualicum Beach

‘It is important for people to get paid and it needs
to be real work’

Who doesn’t like pie?

You can fill that desire to enjoy one of these fruit or meat delicacies in Parksville through a unique non-profit venture that opened earlier this month, the Pie Factory.

The Vancouver Island Workability Society has a tree farm in Nanoose Bay, a thrift store in the Heritage Centre in Parksville and now the Pie Factory on the Island Highway next to Amrikko’s Restaurant.

“Basically we are working with people who have challenges to employment, so most of our folks either have a mental health or brain-injury diagnosis and they have worked before, but in a lot of cases people just give up working because they are usually the last hired and the first fired,” said Majorie Driscoll, the executive director of the Vancouver Island Workability Society.

“And people also get used to getting fired so they quit before they think they are going to get fired — they kind of give up,” she added. “We are what we call the renew employment program — we’re trying to get them back in the workforce and we found the best way to do that is to create employment.”

There are 10-17 people working at the tree farm, a couple at the newly-opened thrift store and four at the Pie Factory, under the direction of chef Norm Kling.

“Norm is an excellent baker — he has lots of experience,” said Driscoll.

The number of people who get to work at the society’s operations depends on the money it brings in.

“It’s a program but it is also a business,” said Driscoll. “it’s our hope to become self-sufficient, that the business pays for itself.”

People who seek employment through the society can self-refer (call 250-821-9944), but Driscoll said they must have a mental health or brain injury diagnosis. They would start working at the society’s tree farm operation as volunteers for the the first 30 days to see if it’s a fit for all. Then they might work two days a week for $33/day.

“It is important for people to get paid and it needs to be real work,” said Driscoll. “What we help them learn is they may not be able to work five days a week.”

Originally from New Jersey, Driscoll has a social work and business background. She has been on the Island for

25 years and with the society for six.

On this day, she is speaking with a reporter in the front of the small Pie Factory shop while Kling prepares pie fillings in the back.

The Pie Factory offers savoury pies and fruit pies (seasonal). Small, personal-sized savoury pies range in price from $6 (chicken) to $9 (shepherd’s pie). The family-sized pies range in price from $16-$25. The other savoury pie options are steak and Guinness, pizza rustic and spinach and feta. The seasonal fruit pies (apple, blueberry and raisin) are $5 for the small ones and $12 for the family size. Starting tomorrow (Dec. 16) there will also be special Christmas pies on offer.

The Pie Factory is located at 487 Island Highway East in Parksville behind Amrikko’s Indian Grill. It is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Reach them by phone at 250-586-0019 or check out the Vancouver Island Workability Society’s website:

www.work-ability.ca.

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