By Dan Chook Reid
I knew there was a need and believed deeply in the cause, but I honestly didn’t know if it would catch on. When Operation Come Home contacted the Glebe Community Association and asked about a partnership to see if we could start bottle collection in the Glebe, I thought it was worth a try but honestly wondered if it would be successful. It appears I was wrong to have doubts.
Operation Come Home is an employment, education and support centre for homeless and at risk youth age 16 and up. The organization seeks to help homeless youth to not become homeless adults. It offers a variety of programs that engage youth in productive activities that give them a foundation to pursue their various life goals.
BottleWorks is a social enterprise of Operation Come Home. It employs at-risk youth for a 12-week period to collect empty alcohol bottles and cans. The youth learn skills like punctuality, team work, initiative and customer service; building up experience that can help them in the future.
The GCA began our partnership with BottleWorks September 26. They set up a truck in the Kunstadt parking lot where the youth prepared for the day. We had no idea what to expect. We had sent a notice to GCA members and posted on social media, in particular on some neighbourhood Facebook groups.
The team was delightfully surprised. At 9:15, community members began to come. Not only did people come, they did not stop coming! There was a steady stream of people until 12:30. Not only did Glebites fill the truck, BottleWorks had to go back and get a second one!
The team at Operation Come Home was thrilled with the positive turnout. Was it only because people had been stockpiling during the pandemic? Would October be quiet? Either way, we brought two trucks, just to be ready.
Well it appears our neighbourhood is very grateful to have a local place to bring their empties, especially for a good cause. The Glebe donated 14,139 bottles on October 31. We filled two trucks!
Elspeth McKay, executive director of Operation Come Home comments: “The Putting Your Empties to Work joint initiative between the Glebe Community Association and Operation
Come Home’s BottleWorks social enterprise is a proven success.”
I am so glad that the GCA has been able to help this initiative. Our community has been able to fill a real need during the pandemic where many have not known where to drop off their bottles. With every bottle donated, we are creating jobs, skills and work experience for at-risk youth while also providing an income. When many of us are finding it hard to volunteer in the ways that we are accustomed to, it is a phenomenal opportunity to give back.
The GCA and BottleWorks extend our gratitude to Kunstadt Sports for allowing us to use their parking lot. It is much appreciated.
Do you have bottles for donation? Mark your calendar. BottleWorks will be at Kunstadt from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. the last Saturday of each month. The December date falls on Boxing Day so the drop-off will be Jan. 9 instead, followed by Jan 30, Feb 27 and March 27.
Dan Chook Reid lives in the Glebe with his wife Melody, their two young children and their friend Deirdre. He is chair of the Glebe Community Association Health, Housing and Social Services Committee and is starting a new faith community, Bytown Community Church.