Program provides work training for participants with intellectual disabilities

Corryn Brock, Staff Reporter

CCAR Industries, located on Lincoln Avenue in Charleston, offers the Lincoln Avenue Recycling Program for Charleston residents with the help of intellectually disabled employees.

According to the CCAR website, the not-for-profit corporation employs approximately 70 intellectually disabled individuals. Several of those individuals assist in the recycling process in the Lincoln Avenue Recycling Program.

The program has provided work training opportunities to program participants (also known as “consumers”) since 1998.

Heidi Logue, CCAR’s developmental training director, says the program participants begin work for the program via a referral process.

“They’ll go through the school systems, they’ll be with their families or where they live, and then when they age out of school it’s kind of like when you age out of high school. What do you do? You look at different options and where you want to be in life, and this is one of their options,” Logue said. “We’re lucky enough to have people choose us.”

Angela King, CCAR’s qualified intellectual disability professional, said, “Our consumers do the majority of the work here.”

The individuals enrolled in the program earn wages while they work to develop workplace skills. Other staff members work closely with the program participants to supervise and train the participants during the work day.

Tasks are assigned based on an individual’s abilities, and modifications are made when necessary.   

Common tasks performed by the program participants include sorting paper, tearing pages from bound items and cleaning up the work area, among other tasks.

According to the website, the mission of the corporation is “to provide community-based services and supports that enhance the quality of life of East Central Illinois citizens with developmental disabilities and/or other functional limitations throughout their lifespan.”

The program accepts and recycles cardboard, newspaper, office paper, magazines, books, calendars, some plastics and brochures.

They are accepting aluminum cans for the time being as well. According to the website, glass, electronics and non-aluminum metals will not be accepted. A large paper shredder is available on-site for confidential documents from businesses and private individuals.

In the last fiscal year the program provided services to over 50 local customers and recycled over one million pounds of material.

King said she believes the program benefits the community.

“It keeps materials out of the landfill,” she said.

King also said she believes this program benefits the individuals working within it.

“One of the biggest benefits for the program participants is that they earn a paycheck,” she said. “That’s important to them.”

Eastern utilizes the recycling program offered by processing all of the university’s recyclables through it, Logue said.

“We have different businesses and individuals that drop off their recycling,” she said. “Eastern brings us all of their recycling.”

Logue said she hopes more people in the community begin utilizing the services CCAR offers.

“We’d just like to spread the word that we’re here,” she said. “We feel like we’re Coles County’s best-kept secret.”

Materials are accepted Monday through Friday starting at 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the Recycling Center located at 1600 Lincoln Ave.

Corryn Brock can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].