Program helps transition people to work after being hurt

RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - For Roger Adame it happened last August as he was unloading a large roll-off, something he's done hundreds of times in his 20 years with Waste Management. He hyperextended his knee, which made driving this truck impossible.

Roger says for a time he was sitting at home and bored to tears. But once he got a release from his doctor for light duty, you'll not find him at Catholic Charities, helping sort items for the thrift shop.

“Well you know at my job basically there is no light duty. It is all heavy equipment and you get to do a lot of stuff like that. To come here, and like I said, get out of the house, to do something different you know, it is eye-opening, And I enjoy it,” says Adame.

Roger is part of Waste Management's T2W program or “Transition to Work.”

It's been around for the last three years locally, and places injured workers on light duty with local non-profits in need of volunteers.

“They are still getting up every day. They are going through their normal routine. They feel productive. And they are out there talking to people. And we found that employees are actually feeling that they were productive, actually got better faster,” says Shannon Denault, Waste Management Human Resources Director.

Denault says the best part: workers are paid their full salary or hourly wage while in the T2W Program. Those who qualify are released for light duty, but not yet physically ready to go back to the light work Waste Management provides.

“Something like this is just crucial for making sure we have people helping us in our programs,” says Matt Vaughan with Catholic Charities.

And there is another benefit. Some in the T2W Program don't stop once they get back to work.

”I would come back here and donate my time on weekends when I am off,” says Roger.