Joe and Stephanie Mancini established The Working Centre in the spring of 1982 as they were completing university. They made a long-term commitment to develop a community-based response to unemployment and poverty. The 40 projects of The Working Centre include 60 units of housing, a free daily lunch meal, employment supports, health services, mental health supports, downtown street outreach, a dental clinic, and community tools projects that encompass cafes, thrift stores, a market garden, a greenhouse, a community bike shop, arts and crafts. The projects of The Working Centre operate out of 14 commercial buildings and multi-plex houses. In July 2016, Joe and Stephanie were made Members of the Order of Canada for their commitment to the homeless and marginalized of the Kitchener-Waterloo Region, notably for the creation of the Working Centre.
Joe and Stephanie have written Transition to Common Work: Building Community at The Working Centre (Laurier Press 2015) a book that highlights how The Working Centre developed practical supports without adding layers of administrative bureaucracy. The affordable services of The Working Centre are the result of the combination of an access to tools philosophy, a radically equal salary policy and a decentralized but integrated organizational structure.