Nfld. & Labrador

Devastated young construction workers get outpouring of support after tools stolen

A Choices for Youth construction crew, hired for on-the-job training to build affordable units for families, were dismayed to find their tools had disappeared overnight after a break-in — but the community came to the rescue.

$2K in tools taken in break-in replaced by community

The latest Alberta department of labour annual report shows a substantial increase in anonymous tips about alleged workplace problems. (Choices for Youth/Facebook)

Young construction workers were floored earlier this week after arriving at their St. John's job site to discover many of their tools had vanished overnight.

It was a loss compounded by the nature of the project itself; Impact Construction is a training program for vulnerable youth that teaches them hands-on skills they can one day bring to the job market.

About $2,000 in protective equipment and tools were taken from a locked shed after thieves forced their way inside.

The discovery was a disappointment, said Chelsey MacNeil, director of employment at Choices for Youth.

"This a program that the youth have been involved in for four months. They're a great crew and they're so connected — not only with the program, but also with one another."

The workers had paid for some of their tools out of pocket, MacNeil said.

Dave Banfield and Chelsey MacNeil of Choices for Youth say the crew took a blow from the theft, but local generosity turned things around. (Kenneth Sharpe/CBC)

Impact Construction was halfway through an eight-month build on Cashin Avenue, said employment co-ordinator Dave Banfield.

The finished product will provide five affordable housing units for young mothers.

"Instead of just getting a construction company to build that for us, we're created this program where we can get youth in our community very real, significant job experience," Banfield said.

"They're getting very attached to this project and they're having a real sense of pride in building this housing unit.… They're just about getting ready to put the roof on."

That progress was only briefly halted after the theft, however; when local tradespeople caught wind of the setback, they dropped by with donations for the crew.

Replacement tools piled up as word spread on social media.


"The community really rallied for us," MacNeil said.

By the end of the day, the sorry situation had completely turned around, she said, with the equipment fully restocked and the workers glowing from an outpouring of goodwill from the industry.

MacNeil explained some of those donors, mainly independent contractors, were committed to helping the young crew through their transitions, and believes the workers' personal progress led to the swift response.

When people know they're helping youth turn their lives around, she added, "that really resonates."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?