A Trail organization that has given back to the community and Third World countries is closing its doors after nearly 20 years of service.
People Loving People’s (PLP) last day of operation is Friday, following a difficult decision made by the non-profit society’s board of directors due to increased operational costs and a reduction in monetary donations.
“I’m not happy, it’s a very hard decision to make and we’re still giving it a lot of thought,” said PLP president Leroy Pedersen. “We have no money. I don’t need to give you figures but by the end of the year we would have nothing – no savings – we would be strapped for cash.”
PLP rescues, repairs and redistributes goods, like clothes, shoes, household items, computers and medical supplies to those in need – both in the community and in developing countries around the world.
It began in 1992 when Annalea Thompson and a group of volunteers started to collect clothing and goods to send overseas. But over time, PLP’s mission grew to include distributing goods to local people in need and providing opportunity to hundreds of local volunteers, including those with barriers.
“PLP has been a place for (volunteers) to come for a social network, for them to learn new skills and gain confidence,” said Gail Pighin, executive director.
“For them, PLP closing means they don’t have a place now or an outlet, where they’re going to be able to go and feel confident and that they’re self-worth is considered.”
The “sewing girls” – Rina Cescon, Silvana Bedin, Mary Conzon and Elsa Santarosa – have been creating garments at the downtown storefront for a combined total of about 35 years. They make unique garments out of mostly brand new fabric but also recycle used fabrics into charming creations.
“It’s very sad,” said Cescon.
“To us it was great, we loved the work and it took up some of our time when we needed to get away from home.”
The charity bought its two-storey building on Bay Avenue in 2006, knowing that it needed to raise $200,000 over the next few years to keep on a sustainable path.
The organization tried to save money by cutting down hours of operation and letting go of one of its few paid employees, but it wasn’t enough.
“Times have changed, we used to be able to send clothes to Nigeria or wherever it might be and there was always a need for all that, well that’s died off and people only want money now,” said Pederson. “It wasn’t serious enough until we really saw it in black and white. It’s always kind of been there and we were just hoping upon hope that money would fall off trees.”
Beyond the financial struggle, the organization’s vision never swayed from its original concept though it grew many facets over time. It became difficult to operate under its old mandate when the real heart of the organization was its volunteers, some which needed extra care and direction.
While PLP as we know it today will be closing for good, the board of directors is committed to potentially restructuring the organization.