Ventures Association

Building Lives for 25 Years
One Home, One Job, One Friend at a time

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About Us

Our Story

Our Vision

Support the creation of economic independence for persons with disabilities in Nova Scotia.

Our Mission

Invest in Nova Scotians with disabilities who strive to join the workforce, live independently, or start a business.
For over 20 years, Affirmative Ventures has been an innovative not-for-profit organization that assists Nova Scotia mental health consumers and other persons with disabilities achieve lifelong independence. Our mandate focuses on the foundation pieces of life - homes, jobs and friends.

Our housing portfolio is growing. We began in 2007 by opening Affirmative House, a ten unit, independent living apartment building in Dartmouth, NS. This living style has proven highly successful and we are actively searching for ways to expand.

Since 1992, we have created employment opportunities for program participants within our communities through the creative use of social enterprises - Pet Stuff on the Go, Common Values and Mort's Convenience Store. Our training program blends unique client needs with the application of sound business practises to help individuals grow personally and professionally. Thanks to supporting community businesses and partners, permanent employment has been secured for many participants.

In line with our social enterprise model, we also support entrepreneurship as an income option for Nova Scotians living with a disability by providing a retail location for entrepreneurs to sell their products.

Friends and partners continue to be recognized as key elements for building stronger communities within which our program participants thrive.

Our Team
  • Lori Edgar, Director of Operations

    Lori joined Affirmative Ventures in the fall of 1993 and hasn't spent a moment looking back. For more than 30 years, Lori has leveraged her human services and business expertise to "blend business with recovery" to help individuals enter the workplace. She is a firm believer that "helping people works makes a difference" and she works tirelessly to support this belief in her role as Director of Operations.

    Lori is not one to sit on her successes. She has also played an integral role in the expansion of programming at Affirmative Ventures, most significantly in the areas of safe and affordable housing (Affirmative House) and financial literacy training.

  • Denise Dunn, Job Developer

    With a degree in home economics and consumer studies combined with 30 years of retail, sales and supervisory experience, Denise came to Affirmative Ventures in 2007 as a Job Coach at the Neighborhood Plus Dollar Store before its rebranding into Common Values. A dedicated advocate and strong voice of the organization, Denise's role has expanded and she now works with community organizations in search of paid employment opportunities for Affirmative Ventures' clients through her current role as Job Developer. Denise is a certified WHIMS trainer and conducts all health and safety workshops with clients.

    As an avid traveler who has seen the challenges of our region widespread, Denise has made it her duty to be a full time advocate for the rights of those with disabilities and believes fully in the value of work in one's life. Denise is integral in providing mutual employment fits between employees and employers and sees the happiness achieved as being the most heartfelt piece of her work.

  • Elisa Jones, Job Coach

    With previous volunteer and work experience with the SPCA animal shelter, Elisa came to Affirmative Ventures as a participant of the 12 week, "Way to Work" employment-training program in 2012. Her previous experience made it a natural fit with "Petstuff on the Go" and she became the grooming assistant after the end of the 12 week program. Elisa's growth and dedication has seen her mature into her current role of Job Coach, where she was hired on to in 2015.

    Elisa's daily duties consist of training, developing and guiding each of our clients. She is vital to uncovering and nurturing work-ready skills and behaviours. Seeing her day-to-day duties progress into lifelong independence has become the most meaningful achievement of working with Affirmative Ventures.

  • Wendy During, Peer Supervisor at Mort's Convenience

    Wendy came to us through the 12-week “Way to Work” program in 2006 and developed into a shining star when hired on at the Neighborhood Dollar store in Halifax. Wendy’s pleasant demeanor, fantastic work ethic and exhibited leadership made her a great fit as a Peer Job Coach, which she was promoted to in 2014.

    Wendy maintains daily leadership in the operation of Mort’s Convenience. She conducts cash training and assists in the development of work-ready skills and creating job-ready employees.
Our Board of Directors
  • Ken Greer, Chair
    Defence Attorney, Nova Scotia Legal Aid

  • Len MacKay, Vice Chair
    Crown Counsel, Public Prosecution Service of Canada

  • Norman Greenberg, Secretary
    Founder and Board Secretary, CEO Alternative Programs for Youth and Families

  • Cheryl Sydney, Treasurer
    Cost Controller, SBM Offshore

  • Sarah Greenwood, Director
    Associate, Sage Tree Law

  • Sarah Hopkins, Director
    Certified Counsellor, Erika Baker Psychological Services

  • Krista Juurlink, Director
    Communications Manager, Halifax Partnership

  • Nicole Leblanc, Director
    Architect/Designer for Residential Clients and EcoGreen Homes
Our Partners
Affirmative Ventures actively partners and collaborates with other community agencies in the effort to enhance programs and services provided for persons with disabilities. By utilizing each organization’s strengths and resources in a collaborative and creative manner we can maximize opportunities making great ideas come to life.

Independent Living Nova Scotia: Independent Living Nova Scotia (ILNS) is a registered charity supporting persons with disabilities through programs and services that promote Independent Living. ILNS runs the Access to Community Education and Employment Program (ACEE) where Affirmative Ventures provides the employment training component. ACEE is a year-long transition program for youth with disabilities who have completed high school but are not yet ready for the workforce or further education.
Nova Scotia Cooperative Council: The Nova Scotia Co-operative council is the provincial voice of the co-operative and credit union system assisting with business start-up, growth, financing, and other development support.
Connections Dartmouth & Nova Scotia Health Authority: Connections Dartmouth is a development of NS Health Authority that supports adults (aged 19 and over) living with long term mental illnesses, and their families, by assisting with skills development, finding employment, utilizing educational opportunities, housing, community support, building a social network and managing their illness.
Office for Disability Issues: The Office for Disability Issues is a focal point within the Government of Canada for key partners working to promote the full inclusion and participation of Canadians with disabilities in all aspects of society and community life.
TEAM Work Co-operative & The WorkBridge Association: The TEAM Work Cooperative and the WorkBridge operate through a collaborative effort of several disability-related shareholder organizations, focused on employment for persons with disabilities.
Novacorp Properties: Novacorp specialized in the management of commercial, industrial, multi-unit residential, and institutional facilities throughout Atlantic Canada. Novacorp is the property manager for Affirmative House.
Ready, Willing & Able works with employers and employment agencies to identify gainful employment opportunities for adults with intellectual disabilities or Autism Spectrum Disorder. Ready, Willing and Able also recognizes that there are several conditions or key elements that need to be in place in order for an inclusive and effective labour market to develop and be sustained.
CMHA NS is part of a nation-wide charitable organization that promotes the mental health of all and supports the resilience and recovery of people experiencing mental illness.

Buy Social Canada is a grassroots movement with the mission to connect socially conscious suppliers with socially minded buyers.

Historical Timeline
Affirmative Ventures is the product of founder Dr. Norman Greenberg. During the 1980's Dr. Greenberg worked as a psychologist with mental health patients at the Nova Scotia Hospital. His work sparked the idea that drove the passion to assist patients with developing the personal and professional skills they needed to live independently outside of the hospital.

Dr. Greenberg's philosophy holds that everyone can contribute to society and that communities maximize their vitality through embracing the unique talents of all those within. With the right opportunity and supports in place, Dr. Greenberg began to consider ways to blend business with patient recovery. After reading the book Affirmative Industry by Lance DuRand and hearing the Minnesota author speak in Nova Scotia, Dr. Greenberg launched the first of several employment training businesses in 1988, a craft oriented social enterprise producing clay heritage model houses.

Seeing initial success, subsequent employment training opportunities were formed; including packaging gravel for a local company and building cat furniture, which was sold in the United States. The cat furniture initiative expanded into packaging pet supplies which ultimately evolved into the current Petstuff on the Go enterprise in operation today.

In 1992, the Affirmative Industry Association of Nova Scotia was incorporated and recruited a Board of Directors from the Nova Scotia Hospital. In 1998, the vision of the organization broadened to its current mandate; "facilitating economic independence of persons with disabilities through getting a job, starting a business, or owning a home." With a sound mission, the Board of Directors expanded to provide enhanced levels of expertise to the organization. A diverse group from the community was recruited, including four individuals with disabilities. At this time, Affirmative Ventures helped form and became a leading partner in the Teamwork Cooperative. The cooperative was designed to open doors for all agencies working with clients with disabilities to create innovative employment solutions and break down barriers between persons and agencies.

In 2002, Affirmative Industries took ownership of the Neighborhood Dollar Plus Store on Novalea Drive in North End Halifax. The venture was highly successful for upwards of a decade before the property was purchased and developed. It moved into downtown Halifax under the rebranded Common Values Emporium and later onto Main Street Dartmouth, where operations were consolidated with Petstuff on the Go.

2004 marked the initial planning period for developing an affordable housing and equity savings model for mental health consumers. In September 2007, Affirmative House became the home to its first 10 tenants. This housing project incorporates a tenant savings plan in partnership with the Nova Scotia Department of Community Services.

In 2009, the social enterprise model was expanded and Mort's Convenience was opened. Located within a senior citizen's apartment building in Dartmouth, providing service to the tenants. This business was the result of a partnership between Affirmative Ventures and Connections Dartmouth, an organization supporting adults who face barriers due to the effects of long term psychiatric illness.

In 2012, the organization celebrated its 20th anniversary and changed its name to Affirmative Ventures to reflect its growth and future plans.

2014 marked the year for extensive strategic planning into the housing mandate. Having seen great success in the evolution of those living at Affirmative House, the organization wanted to expand. Through the guidance of the Board of Directors, the Affirmative Homes program was developed to best cater to the individual recovery needs of our tenants.

© Affirmative Ventures Assoc. 2019
Development by Yarnell & Aaron