Before moving in B.C. in 2008, Darcy Lacombe did not have a fixed address. He had been incarcerated and then spent more than a decade homeless, living on the streets in Calgary.
Then, in 2009, he moved to Cherryville, a small community about 60 kilometres east of Vernon.
“When I was released from prison, I managed to use the acquired skills that I learned there, such as carpentry, to find the odd job. I basically bounced from job to job,” said Lacombe.
After moving, he was introduced to the programs Community Futures North Okanagan, which provides through WorkBC Employment Services.
After finding out he was eligible for Community Futures North Okanagan’s Self Employment Services, Lacombe attended business workshops and received one-on-one coaching. He worked hard to create a solid concept and business plan, and applied for financial support through CFNO’s Business Loans program to get everything rolling.
Community Futures uses Lacombe as anecdotal proof that the past is not what defines your future. With a strong ambition and willingness to put in hard work, he is now an accomplished business owner.
Lacombe now owns Big Bear Landscaping, and provides a number of home and business services within a 200-kilometre radius from its headquarters in Cherryville. Big Bear’s clientele has also broadened from Cherryville to Lumby and Vernon, and other parts of the Okanagan. Services include both residential and commercial jobs.
“I found there were lots of opportunities for creating my own work,” says Lacombe. “Since we started, our work has snowballed to include everything from building retaining walls, excavating, back-filling, irrigation, aeration and planting to home improvement jobs such as dry-walling, painting, and tiling. We’re even thinking of offering snow removal and are looking to start up a small wood mill as well.”
When he’s not attending to the labour side of operations, Lacombe manages every other aspect of the business; from marketing to preparing the books.
“I learned a lot from the WorkBC Self-Employment Program. I was told by my tax preparer that they trained me well there,” he said. “I’ve come a long way and hopefully I can help turn the next guy’s life around.”
Although Lacombe has moved on from his past, he said he hasn’t forgotten it and often provides a hand where he can by giving the less fortunate work.
“I’ve worked with homeless people and have helped out at Howard House. I try to offer jobs to some of those guys as I know how hard it can be for anyone wanting to hire you when you’re down on your luck,” he said. “I’ve come a long way and hopefully I can help turn the next guy’s life around.”
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