Posted at: 11/15/2013 5:51 PM
By: John Doetkott

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Recycling Creates New Jobs For Developmentally Disabled

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- Friday was America Recycles Day, a day to promote the recycling and reuse of everything from paper to batteries.

And while recycling helps us all, how one local company is using the practice to help one group of people in particular.

At Jobs Plus in Waseca, the goal is simple: provide assistance and jobs to adults with developmental disabilities.

“Work is probably the main goal for these guys,” said Penny Haskin, an employment specialist at Jobs Plus. “Also, the idea of what it's like to work in the community. Recycling is important to our environment."

About five years ago the agency launched a recycling program after manufacturing and cleaning jobs dwindled.

Officials say for the more than 70 individuals that the agency serves, the recycling program provides a big boost for both their self-confidence and their wallets.

“They do get paid good money to do this job, so it's great for them,” Haskin said. “They have the ability to get a paycheck and that's a big plus for them. It does make them feel a lot of self-esteem."

Many of the program's participants would be unable to find jobs elsewhere in the community, but officials say the program has helped in other ways as well.

The amount of recycling has grown rapidly over the past few years, meaning more work for the individuals, and a cleaner environment for the entire community.

“It is a great opportunity. These guys get an idea about what needs to be recycled in the community and it keeps the community cleaner,” Haskin said. “People in the community tend to recycle better now and not to littler. They end up using our recycling bins and not leaving things laying on the ground, so it's been great for everyone."

Friday was also the first day that recycling stations state-wide will accept holiday lights.

So if you were unpacking your holiday decorations and found a string that doesn't work, click on the following link for a map of drop-off locations: http://www.cleanenergyresourceteams.org/campaigns/ryh-13-14