As an avid “cheerleader” for social enterprise throughout the Thompson Nicola Cariboo region, United Way was excited to witness the unique donation of a forklift made by Domtar to United Way Funded Partner, ASK Wellness.

The donated forklift will be key in ASK Wellness’ new mattress recycling program which will give employment opportunities to those looking to break into the mainstream workforce, while providing a service to both the City of Kamloops and TNRD.

“We employ people who have largely never been in the workplace, or have been away from work for quite some time,” says Bob Hughes, Executive Director of ASK Wellness.

Participants in the program can be employed for up to a year while working alongside an employment counsellor from Open Door Group to create a plan for the future.  A critical aspect of the initiative is also the niche service provided since limited options for mattress recycling are only available in the Lower Mainland.

“When we started to see the number of mattresses being discarded into the landfill, it was astonishing…You are looking at close to 1000 mattresses a month in the regional district,” says Hughes.

Between the cost of approximately $15 per mattress covered by the City of Kamloops and TNRD, and the sale of bulk recycled goods, this program will sustain 4 full-time employees.

“It’s about sustainability, it’s providing a public service, but fundamental to our mission is the idea of helping people get back to work,”

Domtar has a long-standing history of supporting the community  through unique ways including one of the largest United Way workplace campaigns in the regions, raising $124,300 through employee and corporate pledges in 2016. This mattress recycling initiative was particularly of interest to Domtar’s EarthChoice Ambassador team who embodies the belief that informed choices lead to better, more sustainable lives and a better world.

“Our local team and our Maintenance Department saw this as a unique opportunity—to recycle a forklift by donating it to a project designed to help people get back to work,” said Stephanie Blier, leader of the Domtar EarthChoice Ambassadors at the Kamloops pulp mill.  “Our team is focused on finding creative ways to support our community and this was a great fit. We are so pleased to have been able to help.”

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United Way is helping to meet the basic needs of our community’s most vulnerable people, giving every Canadian the opportunity to realize a better future.

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