LEWISTOWN - When Marlin Spickler became director of Sunshine Connection in Lewistown, the first thing he did was sit down with the clients to learn what they wanted in a center.
Rather than asking for something material, they instead were looking for a way to be part of the community, Spickler said.
"I listened to the consumers and, with their feedback, have worked very hard to put this program together," Spickler said. "It's increased our clients' self-esteem because they're able to do more things and contribute to the community."
Sentinel photo by BUFFIE BOYER
Randy Hackett places cardboard into a baler at the Sunshine Connection recycling center.
Sentinel photo by BUFFIE BOYER
Paul Boyer sorts plastics at the Sunshine Connection recycling center.
In addition to a large consignment store and processing area, the Sunshine Connection has added a full recycling center, operated by Sunshine Connection and Experienced Works clients, to service area businesses.
Spickler expects the recycling center to earn anywhere from $12,000 to $25,000 per year, depending on the amount of business involved.
The money will then go back into programs and services offered to the clients, said Jodi Joiner, assistant secretary of the Sunshine Connection Board of Directors. As the funds come in, the organization also plans to add a greenhouse, exercise room and expand the recycling center further, she said.
IF YOU GO
What: Sunshine Connection, Lewistown
Where: 518 S. Juniata St., Lewistown.
More information: Call 242-4755
"So far, we have 30 recycling bins out and at least 50 other businesses on the waiting list," Joiner said. "Since we build our own recycling bins and transport them ourselves, we're waiting for the funds to come in from our first shipment of cardboard to build more bins."
In the meantime, the Sunshine Connection has a donation wish list including drills, wood, paint, hinges and a table saw. The entire bin construction process takes roughly two days, including delivery, Joiner said.
Businesses use the bins to deposit cardboard, glass, wood pallets, plastic and metals, which are turned into, among other products, bed frames, crafting glass and surgical instruments.
One of the Sunshine Connection bins, placed in the Yeagertown Shopping Plaza, serves a number of business at once, including Sticky Bun Cafe, VIBE Hair and Nail Salon and Greenway Pharmacy.
"I feel very strongly about recycling and wanted to support the work Sunshine Connection was doing," said Heather Bradshaw, owner of VIBE. "Our amount of trash has been cut in half since they brought us the bin. I even bring my recycling from home."
Bradshaw took a tour of the Sunshine Connection facility before agreeing to be a part of the recycling program. It was moving to see how happy the people were there and how much it means to them to help the community, she said.
"You could say they are saving the community one plastic container at a time, but it's more than that," Bradshaw said. "(Marlin) helps people that really need help or who find it difficult to find a job. Everything he does is to better our community."
For more information or to join the recycling program, contact the Sunshine Connection at 242-4755 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. The facility's regular hours are from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday.