When Deloris Benson began working at Recycle Plus in 1999, her intention was to keep the job for six months. Those six months have turned into more than six years, and as Deloris explains it, she found no reason to switch from great hours, a great crew and the many good experiences the job offers.
In her role as supervisor in the Fibre Division, Deloris oversees several handicapped employees who are clients of the Association. She appreciates that the clients are very capable and that each client accomplishes the work in a unique way. Clients’ workdays involve shredding, moving the recycling product to the conveyor, filling the compactor and emptying garbage.
Deloris combines a no nonsense attitude with a sense of humour to connect with her staff. She says the clients are “funny every day.” They are always included in staff conversations and Deloris notes that they often have more to say than everyone else.
She remembers an incident that happened in her early years at Recycle. A coworker was injured and was lying on the floor with a badly damaged hand. Deloris worried about the impact the accident would have on the clients, but her fears were soon put to rest when one of the clients stepped over the injured girl to show everyone a ladybug. “We realized that they really weren’t affected by the situation.”
Deloris notices a distinct division between the clients as they relate to each other. Some workers are more dominant and act superior to the others and there are instances where individuals are excluded from social events. She thinks that sometimes clients are not as tolerant of each other as members of the “normal” community might be.
Reaction to clients working at Recycle Plus varies and there are some misconceptions held by the public. Some think that the bottle depot cannot be a very functional place because the handicapped work there. Others comment that the staff must be very highly educated in order to supervise the disabled workers. Deloris says that neither of these ideas is true. Then she hastens to add that the most amusing comment she has heard is that “you must be handicapped if you work at Recycle Plus.”
Deloris says the Association’s focus is on the whole picture and not just the business aspect alone. She thinks that other workforces may not operate with such a strong commitment to the people. Including clients as staff results in different expectations for the workforce due to the concentrated effort required in meeting their needs.