Window washers raise money for Indigenous drop-in centre in Kitchener

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Christine Drader squeegees the small carriage windows of a garage at a home in Breslau, then uses her bright yellow towel to ensure it’s streak-free.

She’s part of a three-person crew making up AO Home, a new business that cleans windows, gutters, siding and does screen repairs.

It was started by Anishnabeg Outreach, which has offices in Kitchener and Guelph.

The fourth-year biosciences student at the University of Guelph said while it may not seem like a glamorous job, it’s still an important one.

“Every job you do is a good experience,” she said.

Business off to a good start

Drader is shorter and doesn’t have experience with ladders, so she does ground level and basement windows before going inside.

Stephen Jackson, executive director of Anishnabeg Outreach, climbs up an orange ladder to do the top-floor windows.

He started the business as a way to offer job opportunities to Indigenous youth and try to inspire them to start their own businesses.

They’re also using the money raised through the endeavour to fund a new Indigenous drop-in centre they’re hoping will open in Kitchener this fall.

The business officially started a few weeks ago, and it was a good start, Jackson said.

“It’s slow to start up a business, but all of our customers love the fact that we’re raising money for a charity,” he said, standing in the shade of a tree.

He said customers love the attention to detail, adding that on one day, Drader had to clean a window three times because she wanted it to be perfect.

“We get a lot of word-of-mouth promotion from customers. So once we get one customer, you get three or four more, which is really nice,” he said.

Drop-in supervisor starts this week

The crew is able to do about four homes each day, but generally are booking for one or two, Jackson said. When they aren’t cleaning homes, Drader and another crew member work in Anishnabeg Outreach’s employment centre.

Drader said she enjoys getting out of the office.

“The people that we meet, it’s fun to have a chat with them,” she said.

“There’s always a couple of dogs or something, so we get to play with the dogs for a bit,” she said, adding children can be entertaining.

“I had a girl, as I was holding Stephen’s ladder once, she’s like, ‘Why can’t you come play with me? You’re not doing anything,’ and I’m like, ‘No, I have a very important job,’” Drader laughed.

Jackson said he hopes the business will help build a community. The drop-in centre will offer some emergency help, but will also have cultural programs, which elders are helping them plan, he said.

They also just hired a supervisor for the drop-in centre and that person starts this Friday.

“I’m kind of excited. Actually, quite excited,” he said.

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