METRO NEWS: New Calgary linen business to hire homeless

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By: Brodie Thomas Metro Published on Fri Jun 03 2016

Two Calgary entrepreneurs want to help people get a clean start through cleaning laundry.

Hannah and Dave Cree have backgrounds in business and start-ups. They wanted their next project to have a social aspect as well – so they came up with CMNGD (COMMONGOOD) Linens.

“We wanted to really address an issue in homelessness and poverty,” said Dave.  “There’s a lot of agencies doing great things. Where there’s a gap is in the employment metric – getting people transitioning out of homelessness and transitioning into stable positions.”

The pair believes they’ve found a niche market in laundering restaurant linens. Dave said there’s no service that caters solely to restaurants in Calgary.

“We’ve had a huge response from the restaurants – especially locally owned restaurants – they want to provide business dollars to something that’s helping the community,” said Dave.

Working in a laundry service is perfect for someone looking for that first stable job, according to Dave, because it’s labour intensive, but light labour.

“Our goal is to get people back into shape both from a physical standpoint but also a mental and support standpoint,” he said.

Commongood is partnering with the Drop In Centre for their business. They’ll be starting out by using the Drop In’s laundry facilities at night, but have plans to rent warehouse space from the Drop In once they purchase their own equipment.

Debbie Newman, executive director of the Drop In, thinks they’ve got a winning idea that will help lift people out of homelessness.

She said she doesn’t know of another business in the city that specifically seeks to hire the homeless. She said the Drop in does have a labour office that helps pair those seeking employment with employers.

Hannah said CMNGD has an Alberta BoostR campaign (think Kickstarter) through ATB Financial.

They’re currently negotiating their first contracts and hope to be hiring their first employees in the next few weeks.

“We’re hoping to get up to six full time as quickly as possible – and we’ll be running six to 12 people on a regular basis,” said Dave.