Lake City Works: Bringing meaningful work experience to clients

Lake City Works - Image

Lake City Works launched in 1972 with the mission of serving clients of mental health support services, offering therapeutic woodworking workshops and community support. Almost 50 years later, Lake City Works carries on its mission, providing individuals living with mental illness with access to work experience, education and employment services.

The social enterprise provides job opportunities, career coaching and employment support for its clients. They also have a woodworking facility and showroom — through which they build and sell woodworking products — employing their own clients.

Sophie Eld, Lake City Works’ Director of Business, says the organization sees clients as “holistic individuals,” catering to their individual needs. “We meet them where they are.” With an entrepreneurial and client-first approach, the organization seeks new ways to provide value, asking “what could we do that could create meaningful work for our clients?”

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals were developed in 2015 to ensure all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030. One of the 17 goals is Decent Work and Economic Growth, a commitment to provide all humans with decent and productive employment. Eld says Lake City Works goes above and beyond this goal and its benchmark for success, by providing work that is not not only decent, but positive work that clients can take pride in.

Through the pandemic, Lake City Works has adapted to meet the needs of their clients. They’ve provided virtual services and delivered care packages of food to clients. They’ve also worked to get all of their clients online, “making sure that everybody had a laptop,” or device, “some kind of way to get online and engage with Zoom calls or any entertainment.” Additionally, they have split their clients who work in their woodworking facility into two shifts per day, allowing everyone to continue to work while complying with COVID-19 safety measures.

Eld says the pandemic has increased the demand for socially-conscious consumption and business, as people have seen firsthand the results of pulling together and caring for one another. She expects to see more social enterprises emerge in the future, as people realize that they are a viable alternative to traditional ways of doing business.

“Social enterprise is a really meaningful vehicle to deliver change and to be delivering competitive solutions. I think people often think that businesses are where business happens and non-profits are where help happens,” she says. “We’re an organization which helps people and delivers viable, commercially-sound solutions.”


“The Lake City mission of empowering people to be themselves and thrive — that’s something that really should be for everybody in the world,” says Eld. “Social enterprises are a vehicle to make that happen.”