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Student, mom, entrepreneur – and award-winner

 

Lockyer [1]

Veronica Lockyer at the 2014 Student Entrepreneur regional competition. Photo courtesy of Veronica Lockyer

By Alisa Howlett [2]

BELLEVILLE – Multitasking is not a new concept to most college students, and it’s especially not new to Loyalist student Veronica Lockyer, who is being recognized for it.

Lockyer recently took home the 2014 Student Entrepreneur Regional Champion for Central Canada title. She was nominated by a faculty member at Loyalist College and was one of four selected in the province by a panel of judges to compete in the Student Entrepreneur National Competition [3].

Lockyer will now represent central Canada at the national competition in Calgary April 28 to 30. There, competitors go through several rounds of making presentations about their work, and winners are chosen by business leaders who serve as judges.

The winner receives $10,000.

On top of being a mother of four and a full-time business student, Lockyer, 48, owns and operates her own business, Glass Tower Offices Corp. [4], in Prince Edward County. Glass Tower provides expertise and, when needed, accommodation to help women get out of hopeless situations and back on their feet, Lockyer said.

“I’ve rescued women from living in their cars; women living in uninsulated mobile homes with six kids; widowed, elderly women and the husbands didn’t leave any preparations for them and they’re in poverty,” she said. “You name it. It’s across the board.”

The business idea came to Lockyer after she was put in a difficult situation herself.

“I had to start over. Even though I was an educated woman … I was living out in the country with four little kids and I hadn’t worked in over 10 years,” she said. “I had suffered 20 years of mental and emotional and some physical abuse. So when we were all of a sudden left on our own, I really didn’t know how to function in society properly to be productive.”

Lockyer said she collapsed from starvation and was nearly hospitalized because she was skipping meals so she could feed her children.

After that she applied for social assistance. But she was not pleased with what welfare offered. The assistance was merely a monthly cheque, and there was no way for her to learn to become fully sustainable, she said.

“Women shouldn’t have to go through what I went through and how hard the struggles were. So I created Glass Tower Offices Corp. to fill in all those cracks in the system and really work towards helping them change the system.”

Women who come to Glass Tower for coaching need to complete a three-stage interview process.

First Lockyer shares her story with the women one on one and listens to theirs; she wants them to know they are not alone, she said. She then needs to know that the women are willing to work hard to move past their problems. The final stage, if they need accommodation, is showing them the Glass Towers house where they will be staying to see if they get along with everyone else, she said.

The women are required to pay for the rooms they stay in to cover the cost of the mortgage, Lockyer explained.

Ontario Works [5] and the Ontario Disability Support Program [6] now refer women in need to Glass Tower, she said.

Her ultimate goal, she said, is “to change the system and have (those changes) put me out of business.”

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