Empower, the nonprofit organization formerly known as Niagara Cerebral Palsy, has opened a second bottle and can redemption center, called “Empties for Empower,” at 3571 Niagara Falls Blvd., Wheatfield.
“Empties for Empower” is an integrated work setting, where workers are individuals with and without disabilities, who work alongside one another to greet customers, sort and count containers and handle cash transactions. Workers earn a wage while gaining valuable experience and skills to equip them for other jobs in the community.
In addition to the Wheatfield facility, Empower operates another redemption center at 4701 Military Road (near the Route 31 intersection) in the Town of Niagara. Both locations are open 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m.to 1 p.m. Saturday. There is also a 24-hour drop-off bin outside the Military Road location. Customers who create accounts are credited for drop-offs made after-hours.
This is a free public service. Individuals, nonprofits, community organizations and businesses drop off their bottles and cans for sorting and return of their full deposit at 5 cents per container. Empower had processed 1,495,443 bottles and cans to earn approximately $60,000 by the end of November, providing an alternate revenue stream to offset government cuts and to sustain the supports and services that Empower provides. That monetary total also included containers whose returns were donated.
According to Jeff Paterson, Empower chief executive officer, “Since the first redemption center opened in 2016, there have been so many unexpected positive impacts, from unwavering community support to the progress workers have made in realizing their potential. It’s awesome to see workers who were once shy greet return customers by name and with a smile. I urge everyone to stop by and give us a try.”
With 300 employees and a $14 million budget, Empower is one of Western New York’s 60 largest nonprofit organizations. The administrative offices, preschool, community clinic and service coordination program are located on Lockport Road in the Town of Niagara. The job training and day programs division is based in Niagara Falls, while residential facilities are located throughout Niagara County. Licensed by the New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities and the New York State Education Department, Empower is an affiliate of the Cerebral Palsy Associations of New York State.