The Working Centre was established in the spring of 1982 as a response to unemployment and poverty in downtown Kitchener. The Centre grew roots in the Kitchener downtown through the dedication of Joe and Stephanie Mancini, a young married couple who had just graduated from St. Jerome’s College at the University of Waterloo. They saw the potential for building a community of interest around responding to unemployment and poverty, developing social analysis and engaging in creative action.
The Working Centre relied on two community animators at Global Community Centre – Margaret Nally and Patrice Rietzel for support, direction and organizational development. Eventually a board of directors was established and the centre’s projects began to develop.
In Ken Westhues book The Working Centre, Experiment in Social Change, he describes the centre in this way. “Two decades later, it has survived as an independent instrument of self-help community development, and has woven itself into the fabric of Kitchener-Waterloo. It has also achieved a certain maturity, coherence and confidence in its approach to work and unemployment and in its conception of itself.”
The Working Centre’s main projects give people access to tools to create their own work combined with continuous ways of learning and co-operating. The Working Centre organizes its projects into six areas; the Job Search Resource Centre, St. John’s Kitchen, Community Tools, Access to Technology, Affordable Supportive Housing and the Waterloo School for Community Development.
The Working Centre is a nonprofit organization with charitable status that is governed by a Board of Directors. This group of dedicated individuals typically serve the organization in this capacity for five to ten years. Our mode of operation is the building of relationships and trust where each member becomes involved in one or two aspects of the Centre’s work in a way that develops first hand knowledge and understanding. We have been fortunate to be served by individuals who have provided long-term stability and foresight for the Centre.
The Board members over the past year have been:
- Vice-President: Irene O’Toole
- Treasurer: Robert Nally
- Secretary: Carol Taylor
- Kevin Kalbfleisch
- Wendy Czarny
- Asnake Dabala
- Clarence Cachagee
- Jennifer Chivers-Wilson
Our sources of income include:
- Employment Services - Province of Ontario, Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities
- Waterloo Wellington Local Health Integration Network
- Regional Municipality of Waterloo
- Service Canada Youth Skills Link Program
- United Way of Kitchener/Waterloo and Area
- Community Tools Projects income
- Annual Mayor's Dinner
- Annual Golf Tournament
- A significant portion of our funds comes from the generous donations of individuals, groups, service clubs, events, businesses, churches and schools