Langara grad implements social enterprise expansion that started as a school project

Social activism burns bright in this Langara alum

When social advocate and business leader Gavin Jones started the Business Administration program at Langara College, he was getting home from his bartending job after 4 a.m. Now graduated, he starts work every day around the same time. And he loves it.

“I start at 5:30 a.m. every morning, but I’m excited to get up, get in to the office and give back to the community,” Jones said.

Originally, Jones thought he’d end up back in the bar and restaurant industry, maybe opening a restaurant of his own, but he stumbled into the Eastside Movement for Business and Economic Renewal Society (EMBERS). EMBERS is a Vancouver-based charity and the only not-for-profit temporary staffing agency in Canada, and he “loved it from day one.”

Through his BBA program, Jones had the opportunity to do a group business project — writing a business plan — with EMBERS as the community partner. After he graduated, he saw the director of operations role was open at EMBERS and decided to apply. He was chosen for the role in 2018 and since then he has implemented some of the business plan he wrote out as a student.

“Expansions were a big part of that plan,” Jones said. Under his direction, EMBERS has doubled its locations, having opened a new location in Abbotsford in summer 2019 and another location in New Westminster in January.

“We want to offer our services in multiple municipalities because our impact is so huge,” he said of their mission to create opportunities for people living on low incomes. “It’s such a simple, but brilliant concept.

“EMBERS helps thousands of people facing barriers to work by offering economic and employment opportunities, including job placements, training, and support.”

Jones said the new locations are doing “phenomenal.”

“There’s so much skilled labour in the Fraser Valley and beyond for us to step in and help find employment, find work, and partner people up with great jobs.”

Ultimately, he said they’re planning to grow EMBERS exponentially, even opening up some housing for workers.

“Employment can be such a motivator to move forward with whatever people are facing, whatever stage of life they’re at,” he said. “We’re planning to grow EMBERS right across Canada.”

About Langara College’s 49 Langarans Celebrating its 49th year on 49th Avenue, Langara is honouring 49 Langarans; those who are making an impact in the community and have helped shape the College into what it is today. From theatre directors and journalists to small business owners, community advocates, and dedicated employees – the stories of the award recipients are as varied as the College’s journey over the past 49 years.

Meet the 49 Langarans at beyond49.langara.ca

Just Posted

Irish folk supergroup Kíla set to perform on Saturday

Online concert will be available through Harrison Festival Society

Man wanted by Abbotsford Police for domestic assault

Morgan Knull, 27, has multiple prior convictions

Abbotsford youth launches mental health awareness page

Abby Senior student Mia Skoone aims to provide information with @mentalhealth4youth account

Fundraiser golf tournament raises $74,000 for Fraser Valley hospitals

Chilliwack General Hospital will benefit from a tourney at held at the Sandpiper Golf Resort

Canada West Golf Championships cancelled due to COVID-19 travel restrictions

UBC, UBC-O, UFV and UVic athletes will not hit the links this year, Kelowna was set to host

B.C. reports 96 new COVID-19 cases, one hospital outbreak

61 people in hospital as summer ends with election

‘Unprecedented’ coalition demands end to B.C. salmon farms

First Nations, commercial fishermen among group calling for action on Cohen recommendations

Earthquake off coast of Washington recorded at 4.1 magnitude

The quake was recorded at a depth of 10 kilometres

B.C.’s top doctor says she’s received abuse, death threats during COVID-19 response

Henry has become a national figure during her time leading B.C.’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic

BC Liberals must change gears from election cynicism, focus on the issues: UBC professors

COVID-19 response and recovery is likely to dominate platforms

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

B.C. could be without a new leader for multiple weeks after Election Day: officials

More than 20K mail-in voting packages were requested within a day of B.C. election being called

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Dozens of Canadian venues to light up red in support of entertainment workers

Local facilities among dozens across Canada to participate in Light Up Live

Most Read