‘The response has been amazing’: Guelph nonprofit community thanks community after break and enter
Earlier this month, Torchlight Services in Guelph found their hangar locks cut off and the 40 wooden planks inside, missing.
The general manager, Patty Coté-Duncanson had choice words for the person (s) responsible.
“Whoever did that, you should be ashamed of yourself. It’s a nonprofit,” Coté-Duncanson said.
Torchlight serves participants living with various disabilities. The organization helps teach them life skills through real world activities and they are well known for their carpentry shop.
Participants use pieces of wood, turn them into beautiful objects and sell them.
Nesting boxes with festive decorations and all the crafts that inspire them.
Participant Derrick Miller has been coming to Torchlight for about 7 years. This week, he’s part of a team that creates works of art with individual strips of wood, which are pieced together like a puzzle and painted to be symbols or characters from comic books. Spiderman and Darth Vader sit proudly on the wall with Mr. and Mrs. Pac-man and Sonic the Hedgehog, among others.
“Martin plans them out and we paint them and then we put them together,” Miller said of his teamwork.
The other members of the group are then responsible for selling the items and all participants share the profits. The organization does not take a cut.
Doug Weldon lives without his sight and in a wheelchair. He has been coming to Torchlight for over 10 years and is known as an expert sander, “I love coming to work in the shop.
He says he often works with headphones because his hearing is very important to him.
The money he earns from his creations gives him more independence. He recently bought new items with the profit he made at Torchlight.
“My new snowsuit. I bought my new fishing rod. Now I’m going to buy new sheets for my bed at home,” Weldon explained.
While putting together tiny pieces of wood and preparing to paint them, Miller explained, “When I heard that someone had stolen wood from us, it was a shock and I was sad about it.”
The theft is believed to have occurred at the organization’s site in Edinburgh Road over the weekend of November 6-7. The store manager discovered the theft the following Monday.
“The door opened and there was nothing left inside,” said Coté-Duncanson.
The 40 or so boards would have been the equivalent of a year of product, to be used by the participants.
“I didn’t know how we were going to move forward because we had nothing, it was all our wood,” added Coté-Duncanson.
Police are currently investigating and say the suspect (s) would have needed a vehicle to commit the theft due to the size of the load.
Guelph Police Department media relations coordinator Scott Tracey said the potential charges include theft under $ 5,000.
“It was in a locked shed and the lock was broken, so break-ins would definitely be something they would likely be charged with as well,” Tracey added.
Police estimate the dollar value of the transport to be approximately $ 2,000.
Coté-Duncanson says she knows the price of lumber has been going up lately, but to the people of Torchlight it’s worth so much more.
Fortunately, once news of the log theft broke, the phone lines, and ultimately Torchlight’s faces, lit up.
“The response was amazing and it kind of took all the feelings away from what we felt when we noticed all the wood was gone,” Coté-Duncanson said.
Adding that it was difficult to keep up with the generous calls and emails they received.
In less than two weeks, the organization has received so many donations of wood and money from the community that they now have more wood than was stolen.
“It keeps these guys busy and happy,” Coté-Duncanson said with a smile.
“That’s all we want is for them to be happy.”
Miller agreed, saying he was more than happy to complete his project and go on a lot more, “I’m just as happy that the community was able to donate.”
Next year, Torchlight Services will move to a new location on Carden Street and sell items from there.