When Saada Farah Abdi immigrated to Canada from her native Somalia, she found herself with few job skills.

That was until Renaissance offered her job training.

“Now I feel confident because I have all the tools,” she said. “I'm a cashier, am a sorter, and I'm customer service also.”

One of Montreal's most popular chains of thrift stores, Renaissance has operated as a charity for almost 25 years.

Starting out as an off-shoot of the food bank Harvest Montreal, it now has 43 stores and drop-off centres around the island with a main goal of providing job training for people looking for work.

The group, which collects clothes and other household items, is in the middle of a collection drive that ends Saturday -- though drop-off centres are open year-round.

“Half the things we get are clothing, the rest is pot and pans, dishes, books shoes, musical instruments. Whatever people have, they give it to us and that's our way of financing our programs,” said Pierre Legault, CEO of Renaissance.

The non-profit then sells the products or recycles them – but everyone who works here is part of a job training program lasting six months.

Workers are provided with basic skills needed to find real, stable employment.

“People coming into the program are people who haven't worked in years and people just getting into Quebec who don't have any Canadian work experience,” said Legault.

Alaa Elhidaoui is one of those participants.

“In Renaissance, what I liked the most is the fact we were constantly supported by the socio-professional counsellor and by the management staff. I learned new skills,” said the Moroccan native.

When Elhidaoui completed the program, he was offered a full-time job at Renaissance.

“Two months ago I became the assistant manager at the new store in Galeries Normandie” in Ahuntsic-Cartierville, he said.

Farah Abdi has almost completed the six-month training program, and said she’s ready for her next move.

“With these new skills, I'll be able to work in the retail business,” she said, adding, “I would like to go back to school to be a social worker.”