Avenues Recycling Program Finalist For Community Partnership Award


Staff members of Avenues and Mutual of America met with some of the members of Recycling Avenue. Front row includes Nick, Brian and PJ, (back row) Mutual of Americas’ LaDoverick Huggins, Avenues board members Peg O’Herron and Jerry Feldman, Mutual of Americas’ Thomas Gilliam, Avenues President/CEO Robert Okazaki, Avenues VP of Programs Cathy Kerr and Mutual of Americas’ James Murphy.

Avenues to Independence’s Recycling Avenue program has been recognized as a Merit Finalist award recipient of the 2019 Mutual of America Community Partnership Award. The award, presented for 24 years, honors contributions made by nonprofit organizations to improve issues in the community.

Thousands applied for the national award and Park Ridge-based Avenues is one of 10 finalists and the only organization in the Chicago area.

According to Colleen Murillo, public relations manager for Avenues to Independence, award organizers “liked that Recycling Avenue wasn’t something that they had seen before.”

The Recycling Avenue program was launched in 2007 by Greg Campone and P.J. Flaherty, two physically challenged young adults who wanted to work and help Avenues. The organization provided the space that allowed the young men to recycle electronics.

Program participants keep electronics out of landfills. Cell phones, laptops, printers, inkjet cartridges, ink toners, MP3 players, digital cameras, GPS devices and more are donated.

Businesses and communities offer recycling bins for the program in Buffalo Grove, Maine Township, Winnetka, Wilmette and Kenilworth. The donations are sorted, researched and tested by the program’s participants and then sold on eBay. The skills needed for this job are taught in the Avenues computer lab. About 2,500 items have been sold through this process, which has benefitted the individuals.

“Nothing is wasted. If we can’t sell something, we donate our gift or recycle with other organizations,” said Murillo. Seven or eight main members work at Avenues’ Wheeling location (444 Mercantile Court). The majority are ambulatory and some are in wheelchairs, Murillo said.

The money received will help to continue running the Recycling Avenue program. It will help make improvements to the program and continue to give work opportunities to the individuals in the program. “Also, it will help the Earth by saving these recyclable items from ending up in landfills,” said Murillo.

Avenue’s is a nonprofit organization based in Park Ridge that supports adults with intellectual, physical and developmental disabilities. For more information about the program, call 847-292-0870.

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