Editor’s note: A year ago, the Diocese of Fredericton was overwhelmed with the news that not only did a generous parishioner, Dorothy Wilkes, bequeath $5.5 million to fund ministry and other ventures in the diocese, but that a $50,000 annual income from her late uncle, George Bartlett, upon her death, would be directed to the diocese. Here is one outcome of that generosity.
By Gisele McKnight
Every morning, Nathaniel, Wayne and Sarah go to work at Catapult Industry in Saint John. They renovate, paint and repair houses and even churches.
Their work, on a large, run-down, older property on historic Douglas Avenue, recently won them a heritage award from the City of Saint John. Heritage Awards are given to homeowners and tradespeople “who have made significant contributions to the conservation of our city’s heritage buildings over the past year,” says the city. In this case, it was for outstanding residential façade preservation and rehabilitation.
Catapult Industry is only a year old, but the business might not exist without the Anglican Diocese of Fredericton’s help.
Last May, because of the George Bartlett income, the diocese earmarked $10,000 in start-up money to help get Catapult off the ground. Why?
Because the fledgling company is owned by Outflow Ministry, a Christian faith-based charity that runs the city’s only men’s shelter and serves meals five nights a week to anyone who needs to eat, among many other outreach initiatives.
“Without the support of the diocese and that $10,000, it might not even have been possible,” said Jayme Hall, executive director.
“During my time as the rector of Stone Church, it was my vision to be able to develop businesses in the Uptown area of Saint John which would create opportunities for people to re-enter the workforce,” said Bishop David Edwards. “When Jayme came to us with a request for help to start Catapult, I was pleased that we as a diocese were able to help.”
The creation of Catapult is what Jayme calls “marketplace ministry” and he hopes that profits from Catapult will soon help sustain Outflow’s traditional ministry.
“We wanted to go beyond compassion-style ministry — helping people, feeding people — to see individuals step beyond that, beyond the handouts. We want to be able to say, ‘here are the tools to help you go to work.’”
The start-up money helped buy tools and equipment, set up the business and lure an established carpenter, Nathaniel Muller, to join Catapult. With him are Wayne and Sarah, who each have construction experience.
One aim of this for-profit business is to expand to hire more people who might be rejected by other employers because of their pasts.
“We’re teaching skills so that if they leave, they leave with skills,” said Jayme. “It’s ‘restoration work’ in every sense of the word. We hire guys with a past.”
While Catapult is not awash in cash just yet, it is able to pay its employees, its bills and its business costs.
Catapult has a few jobs on the go — siding a house, siding a church and working on the former Anglican House, which will become a coffee shop, another enterprise which will help in Outflow’s quest to become more self-sufficient and put more people to work who desperately need a hand up.
After just a year in business, Catapult’s award is a surprise that could help bring in more business.
“This is not a bunch of homeless guys swinging hammers,” said Jayme. “The quality of our work, as this award shows, is excellent.”
“My contact with Outflow has enabled me to get to know some of the people who are working for Catapult and it’s good to see them finding confidence in what they are doing,” said Bishop David. “This heritage award is a hopeful sign for the future.”
The company is in discussions with suppliers to take on some woodworking jobs, in addition to lining up more work for the construction season. Catapult focuses mostly on residential projects. To contact them, call 1-888-529-6358 or firstname.lastname@example.org .