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Three years ago New Circles’ recently-hired Executive Director Alykhan Suleman met with key volunteers and funders to brainstorm the next step in the organization’s evolution.  His vision was to use the clothing bank GLOW (Gently Loved Outfits to Wear) as a platform to offer training in retail skills, noting, “Developing employable skills is an investment we can make to provide longer term solutions for our clients.” 

On Friday June 24th, the dream became a reality when 14 participants graduated from the first Retail Foundations program.  Thirteen of the participants also passed the Retail Council of Canada’s online exam and are now certified Retail Sales Associates. 

New Circles 9th Annual Prom Boutique 2016 Check out our 2016 Prom Boutique slideshow>

There’s nothing like Prom – the excitement, the drama and the lifelong memories.  All of this was made possible for teens who attended the recent 2016 Prom Boutique. From suits, shirts and ties for the guys and dresses, shoes, and jewelry for the gals, 568 young women and men from across Toronto were outfitted for the night of their lives.    

Richeline, Retail Foundations student, tours GLOW with Mario Gravelle, The Counselling Foundation of Canada

New student Richeline and Counselling Foundation's Mario Gravelle tour GLOW“I’m looking for a job but I don’t have any Canadian experience,” said GLOW volunteer Richeline, who is among the first cohort of participants to enroll in our new Retail Foundations course.  

Richeline, a mother of three who came to Canada from Haiti, is the ideal candidate for this program which launched in February and is geared to newcomer women facing barriers to employment. 

Ali Jiwani, surprise guest, interviews JenniferSpring came early for New Circles on Tuesday, March 1st.  About 50 die-hard supporters showed up at 6:30am to welcome BT’s Live Eye host Jennifer Valentyne and help launch the 2016 Prom drive for our 9th Annual Prom Boutique.

A number of special guests joined us as well:

New Circles Community Services is pleased to announce the receipt of a $248,500 grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) to support its core program GLOW (Gently Loved Outfits to Wear). Over the next three years, the grant, part of OTF’s new Grow grant program that enables organizations to build on proven programs in the community, will help New Circles expand its free clothing bank to meet the needs of 12,000 vulnerable residents each year.

A wonderful celebration at Centennial College took place this month to honour 10 new graduates from our Business Office Skills program, offered in partnership with the college and Goodwill Industries. Michelle deCoste, the Dean of Continuing Education and Alykhan Suleman, our Executive Director, were joined by Deputy Mayor Denzil Minnan-Wong, who brought greetings on behalf of the Mayor, to celebrate this accomplishment. Tabinda spoke on behalf of the graduating class, noting how she appreciated learning about Canadian business norms such as making eye contact and having a firm handshake, as well as having improved her public speaking skills and gaining confidence for her job search.

August 19, 2015

Authors: Rafay Ahmed, Uwais Dhalech & Ali Khan, LIST Students

August 7, 2015

Author: Makayla Robinson, LIST Student (soon to be a star…an actress!)

This week at New Circles in the LIST program we learned about accepting all people for their diversity, such as if they like girls or boys. This was a great thing to learn about. We also learned about textiles, how clothing works, where they come from and how they are made. We got to weave bracelets by using yarn and other string type materials.

The LIST program is so much fun because we learn about retail, money and how the stores work. We also learn about how to convince customers into buying the product.

July 31, 2015

Author: Shamisa Paikar, LIST Student

My personal experience at New Circles has been fantastic so far! I have had various opportunities to express myself as well as build on the skills and knowledge I obtain. During our workshops we learned how to ask for a job in person, time management exercises such as prioritizing tasks that needed to be done, the different yet positive body language that one must display while speaking to employers such as posture, eye contact, facial expressions etc.

A fun exercise we did was dressing the mannequins up to make them look presentable so customers will like their presentation and eventually choose something. While helping out in the store, I had the chance to arrange the clothes in the back, help customers choose clothes as well as check out the items for families.

July 27, 2015

Author: Natasha Bhaloo, LIST Student

My experience at the New Circles Program is amazing so far. What I am doing in the program is hanging clothes on the racks and restocking the clothes on the shelves in the GLOW store. The most memorable thing that happened was that I met new friends. It made me feel so happy. Yes, it was valuable information that I could use in life and to share with others. My personal comment about the New Circles program is that the program is amazing because I get to learn new things every day. When I work in the GLOW store Monday to Wednesdays I get to work in the store with my friends and I get to gain a lot of retail experience. It builds confidence in me.

July 27, 2015

Author: Daniel Khoshnood, LIST Student

I’ve been volunteering at GLOW for the past week now and I still enjoy it quite a lot! I enjoy giving back to the community and this is one of the best ways to do it. I also get crucial hours for volunteering and valuable job experience that would be pivotal for my next job. The training seminars are incredibly interesting, I now know a lot about retail jobs so even if I don’t choose to pursue that path, I can respect the workers for the hard work they do.

July 17, 2015

Author: Sara Ahmed, LIST Student

For the past week and a half I’ve been volunteering at GLOW and to be honest, I think it’s great. I mean, I’m not gonna lie, constantly putting clothes on hangers may be a bit tiresome, but it gives you the full experience. I think having a store like GLOW is so amazing because it’s so convenient and accommodating for families. It’s also very cultural, for example there are lots of families from different backgrounds which makes GLOW so diverse and a fun place to be.