Fiona Welsh

Macleay Options Inc.

While the story of local business Macleay Options’ phenomenal growth has been told countless times, what is not often reported on is the inspirational ethos that the organisation is grounded in, and the smiling faces of people with disabilities who are employed to do work that brings them joy. This, says marketing manager Fiona Welsh, is what makes Macleay Options a successful and sustainable social enterprise.

Macleay Options originated when a concerned group of parents and community members got together to create employment opportunities for people with disabilities. By meeting a real community need, the organisation has now grown from a team of four to a thriving enterprise that employs over 150 people. The business’ offshoots include four vocational industries: Momacs (macadamia processing), Mohawks (lawnmowing and yard work), Threads (sewing) and Woodies (woodwork), a recycling enterprise, two retail outlets and an online store, along with its support service arm “Macleay Valley Connections”.

According to Fiona, Macleay Options’ success is grounded in a solid financial foundation, a genuine dedication to its original concept and an ability to adapt to challenges.

“By identifying and fusing industries that are suitable and self-sustaining for disability employees, we’ve been able to navigate economic challenges,” Fiona says. “Achieving ‘Employer of Choice’ at the Macleay Valley Business Awards has been the pinnacle for us because it shows we’re recognised for our contribution to the local community.”

As one of the largest employers in the region, Macleay Options’ economic impact on the Macleay Valley community is significant – last financial year saw a payroll expense for the organisation of over four million dollars. But, Fiona says, the widespread benefits of this heart-centred business go way beyond the financial.

“Another impact that cannot be overestimated is the social inclusion and wellbeing that comes from many of the organisation’s client based programs,” she says. “We hear countless reports from employees of the enhanced self-worth that comes with having employment and the personal sense of contribution to their families’ wellbeing. One client said to me that if they didn’t work for us they would be sitting at home staring at the walls.”

“To be able to make a significant and positive difference in the daily lives of others, and quietly observe its profound impact is quite humbling. Seeing the genuine joy reflected in our employees smiles when they learn that their hand-crafted product is being shipped to the other side of the world is priceless.”

Fiona and the team are confident Macleay Options will become an industry leader in disability support and services – blazing the trail for social enterprises who want to stay true to their core values.

“The dedication that drives Macleay Options cannot be taught or bought,” she says. “It is the soul of the people who contribute to our organisation that makes all the difference. From our volunteers who give their time, knowledge and skills, through to our employees, everyone is valued for what they can contribute and recognised as adding value to the overall success of the organisation.”

For further information on Macleay Options click here.

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