High-tech bottle depot helps Calgarians with disabilities: ‘It’s going to work wonders’

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WATCH: Heading off to the bottle depot with those bulging bags of empties probably isn't very high on your list of favourite chores. But as Gil Tucker shows us one Calgary depot has something that makes it a little easier – and you'll be helping others while you're at it – Apr 20, 2018

Jason Barefoot has been working at the Vecova bottle depot in northwest Calgary for the past 23 years, enjoying the steady employment it has provided.

“I’ve had a learning disability all my life,” Barefoot said, adding that working at the depot has been a big boost.

“It’s been a challenge. It took a long time,” he said. “I’ve overcome the majority of my disability and I’m very, very proud of myself for doing that that.”

Now, Barefoot is hoping something new at the Vecova Centre for Disability Services and Research will help the non-profit organization help more people with disabilities.

It’s one of the first bottle depots in Calgary to bring in an automated sorting system.

“It’ll process everything,” Barefoot said. “It counts it up, sends it to the proper bags. It automatically knows where it’s supposed to go, ’cause it’s so high-tech.”

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Vecova director of employment Matthew Nomura said the new system is going to make a big difference.

“This will be eliminating more barriers to employment,” Nomura said. “It allows individuals that may have a barrier with counting just to be more employable.”

The organization is hoping quicker service and consistently accurate counting will bring in more customers. It’s planning on using any extra revenue to expand services to its clients.

Vecova operates homes for people with disabilities and runs programs to help them take part in community events.

Barefoot is looking forward to seeing the benefits the new sorting system will bring.

“It’s going to work wonders for us,” Barefoot said. “There are other people here who have way harder disabilities than mine and they need constant help every single day. And that’s what we’re here for.”