KAMLOOPS - A new program from ASK Wellness in Kamloops aims to teach job skills while helping the environment.
Executive director Bob Hughes says the project is a two-birds-with-one-stone idea providing the city with mattress recycle services while providing people who lack basic job skills a place to start. The main goal is to help people into the mainstream workforce.
“They will work with us for up to a year,” he says “They’ll learn skills and work at a private sector pace.”
Once they have some experience, the program’s employees will be able to join the workforce or move into a post-secondary education program, gaining economic autonomy and better able to provide for themselves. Hughes hopes to have four people in the program at a time.
Hughes says similar programs exist in the Lower Mainland, providing opportunity for workers in economically viable programs. The Kamloops program is still being put together, with the biggest hurdle a location right now.
“We’re looking for warehouse space, something reasonable,” he says.
While the not-for-profit society is planning for the program to be long term, they can’t afford a long term lease right now. Location is also important, so people who use the program, who won’t likely have cars, can get to work. Ideally, Hughes would like to find a place in an area like Mission Flats.
While the primary goal is teaching basic job skills, the program will be providing a significant environmental service, Hughes says. Around 700 to 800 mattresses get dumped in the Kamloops and Thompson-Nicola Regional District monthly and they are made of mostly recyclable materials. Workers will be ripping apart the mattresses, sorting the material and sending it to places for reuse, keeping tons of material out of landfills or illegal dump sites.
Funding is already being set up, with a foundation helping get the project off the ground. Once it’s going, it’s expected to break even, with some local government enivronmental services money diverted from dumps to the program, recycle fees and the sale of the bulk recycled goods balancing wages and the lease. Domtar is also helping out by providing some equipment.
While the project is new, ASK Wellness has been working with the city and regional district for more than five years already on a similar project. The organization has helped the city and regional district clean up things like abandoned RVs or illegal dump sites.
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