Rustic Havens Grand Opening Ribbon cutting ceremony, left to right- Sydney Bodnaryk, Brenda Eyre, Elaine Wurtz MDSI Board of Directors, Jodelle Mierke MDSI Supervisor, Aime Mc Niel Executive Director for SARC, Erin Zorn (rear) Audrey Davitko (front) Wadena Mayor Greg Linnen
Rustic Havens holds grand opening.
By Andy Labdon
The culmination of vision, innovation, hard work and above all, team effort was evident during the grand opening of Rustic Havens in Wadena on Nov. 29
The “quaint shop” as it will be undoubtedly become known, was full of visitors, guests and employees of M.D.S.I. last Tuesday afternoon when Ryan Calder, chief executive officer (CEO) of M.D.S.I. (formerly Mallard Diversified Services Inc.) welcomed and thanked everyone for joining them on this auspicious occasion.
Owned and operated by M.D.S.I., the project is under the supervision of Jodelle Mierke, who welcomed guests and began with a condensed history of the organization. M.D.S.I. has been a great service to the community as well as supporting the people with disabilities, said Mierke. It has enabled their clients to live lives full of purpose and accomplishment. She explained that the supportive workshops enable “the people we serve to become a major part of the business.”
The main business of M.D.S.I. includes the manufacture of pallets, to international standards, and furniture, confidential shredding services, a second-hand clothing store in Wash & Wear, and formerly provided the town’s recycling program, to name a few.
“When M.D.S.I. decided to leave the recycling program in 2015, we needed to find employment for 70 per cent of our staff,” said Mierke, “which caused use to think, a lot!”
Rustic Havens was a department at M.D.S.I. that, at the time, produced artwork and wood products from recycled wood.
“With the revamp,” said Mierke, “we have several entrepreneurs who work in the different departments of M.D.S.I. who make and supply goods to Rustic Havens that sell the products for them.”
Those products include homemade jewellery and diffusers, cards, gift tags and the now-famous variety of wood products.
“Rustic Havens is an opportunity to showcase the ability and skills of everyone employed here,” said Mierke.
“We have a very active board of directors and group of volunteers who support us,” said Calder, taking over the floor, emphasizing that to be able to be active, they must have support.
“It wasn’t so much as a leap of faith for the board as we have the faith in our employees,” stated board member Elaine Wirtz. “On behalf of the board and its members, I am proud of the staff members and of Jodelle, whose vision and initiative kept the momentum high to build what we think is unique.”
Wirtz said she has received many positive comments from Wadena residents as well as “out of towners,” which she said, “was especially gratifying to hear, as we are pleased to use this venue to showcase the talents and employment skills of our folks at M.D.S.I.”
“This is a great day for our Main Street,” said Wadena’s Mayor Greg Linnen. “It is an asset. It’s another opportunity for people to stay in the community and shop in the community, which is always a positive thing.”
Amy McNeil, executive director for Saskatchewan Association of Rehabilitation Centres (SARC) also offered congratulations, saying Rustic Havens is “an amazing store.”
“You should be proud of what you have achieved here. It’s an amazing contribution to the town of Wadena,” said McNeil.
McNeil also informed the crowd that SARC has close to 100 members, of which M.D.S.I. is one. The government allows SARC, a non-profit organization,to provide a “flow-through” payment in the form of a dividend that is paid to members. SARC’s slogan, of the three Es, “Encourage, Employment, Enviromental Protection” are markers that are used when making this payment.
“It is so inspiring to come to an organization like yours and see how you have taken a vision that has encapsulated our slogan and included everyone,” said McNeil. “I am going to profile your organization and what you are doing here as showing great leadership.”
The happy event concluded with a ribbon-cutting ceremony followed by coffee and biscuits.