Broken locks, an empty shed and a feeling of disgust are what Patty Coté-Duncanson, Torchlight Services executive director, was greeted with on Monday morning when she discovered the entire supply of donated wood had been stolen over the weekend.
The wood, which was donated by one of the board members’ mothers who recently passed away, was expected to last the program participants for the next couple of years.
“I’m just disgusted that someone would take from these people who are just so happy to make things themselves and earn a little bit of money,” said Coté-Duncanson. “All the money when they sell something goes back to them, it’s a social enterprise and it’s their money that is gone now.”
Torchlight Services provides day programs for adults with disabilities, focused on providing meaningful services to promote inclusion and acceptance in our community.
The thieves made off with between 40 and 50 large pieces of cedar planks that had been donated by the board member's mother when she tore out her deck.
The donated wood has thus far sustained the group for close to two years, and the theft of the wood has left the not-for-profit charitable organization scrambling to find a solution.
The cedar planks were meant to be planed and crafted into projects which the participants of Torchlight Services would then sell at craft markets.
“This wood has enabled our program participants to make items that are extremely meaningful and important to them,” said Coté-Duncanson. “They work so hard on making these items to sell to the community that make other people happy all while making a little extra money.”
The theft came at an already stressful time as Torchlight Services is underway moving from its location on Edinburgh Road to a new space in Downtown Guelph.
Coté-Duncanson said the move comes after over 40 years at 30 Edinburgh Rd. and already has staff stressed.
“The wood's been there for a while, but nobody really had the opportunity to see it until the last couple of weeks with us moving in a month which is another uphill battle for these guys,” said Coté-Duncanson. “We’re just starting to get them rolling again and back in, and suddenly we have to move and the wood is gone.”
Coté-Duncanson said the move will allow them to open again to full capacity.
A police report has been filed with the Guelph Police Services.
Coté-Duncanson is asking anyone from the public to reach out and donate any unused wood they have so the program can resume building wooden craft projects.
She can be reached at 519-822-7600 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.