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Heroes of diversability: Columbia Bottle Depot

Back in 2007, the local recycling company, Columbia Bottle Depot, wanted to make a change. A change that would not only please their customers but give back to the community.

Fast forward 11 years and that change has been made, solidifying a concrete relationship with the local organization, Pathways Abilities Society.

Pathways is an organization that welcomes individuals of all different diversabilities, and providing them with opportunities in the workforce.

<who>Photo Credit: Pathways Abilities Society</who>

The relationship stemmed from a plea by visitors of Columbia Bottles, who didn’t want to sort their recyclables and wanted to donate their refunded cash to an important local cause.

That was when owner Clare Cassan, and operations manager Cara Heck, decided to make a change.

“Locals wanted their money to go to a good cause, so we looked around to groups and organizations in the community that could maybe help do that,” Said Heck.

“We decided to work with Pathways so that it would help to provide employment for some individuals in our community as well as provide funds for their programs, it just seemed like a good fit for us” added Heck.

<who>Photo credit: Columbia Bottles</who>

The new system deemed the “Don’t Wait, Donate” program, allows Columbia customers to bring in their bottles to any of the three locations in Kelowna or drop them off at one of the drop bins. Then, have them collected, sorted and recycled by Pathways and Columbia employees.

The deposits go right back to Pathways to be used as compensation for the individuals who spend their time at Columbia, as well as to fund different initiatives the organization has in place.

This way locals can not only feel good about taking a greener approach to their waste management routine but also for supporting local organizations like Pathways and providing community members with new opportunities.

<who>Photo Credit: Columbia Bottles</who>

“It seemed like a win-win solution, something that we felt strongly about, something that we could support and also something that we could promote to our customers that they would also feel some pride in,” said Cassan

Not only is the initiative a win for customers and Pathways employees, but for the team members at Columbia, creating what Cassan calls “infectious positivity”.

<who>Photo Credit: Columbia Bottles</who>

“They are happy to have employment, they are eager to come in, they are positive, they have great interactions with everyone and they want to do a good job, it adds a positive spin to our day.” said Heck

“It’s been a great reciprocal relationship, we work hard to make it viable and always try to think outside the box by adding new initiatives for them to help out with, we are really proud of the 11-year relationship we have forged with them.”

This our first instalment of Heroes of Diversability, which is a series highlighting businesses around Kelowna who have partnered up with Pathways to employ an individual with diversability.

Pathways Abilities Society is a non-profit organization providing services to individuals with diverse abilities in the Central Okanagan for over 60 years. Among the services it provides, Pathways connects local progressive businesses with individuals with diverse abilities, developing customized employment programs that put diverse abilities to work in our community.

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