Program offers wellness through work

Provides support for people with mental illnesses

Justin Beals works for Communitas Social Enterprise as a truck driver and managing the accounts. He says that having a boss that understands mental illness has been significant.

Justin Beals works for Communitas Social Enterprise as a truck driver and managing the accounts. He says that having a boss that understands mental illness has been significant.

Whether he’s out on the truck or working behind the desk in the office, Justin Beals enjoys his job with Communitas Social Enterprises (CSE).

CSE is a program of Communitas Supportive Care Society that provides shredding and recycling services through ShredMasters and ValleyRecycling.

Beals has been with the company since 2007 and has grown into the job, taking on more responsibilities as time has passed.

But more than that, he’s grown into the person he is today because his job is more than a place to shred paper and recycle materials.

Beals, who lives with mental illness, said doing this work enabled him to find himself again.

CSE gives people recovering from mental health challenges an opportunity to achieve healthy and independent lives by providing a safe environment to get hands-on job skills training.

Former CSE manager Peter Kent worked with Beals for several years.

“Justin is a good example of someone who might not have made it in a ‘normal’ work environment where there might not be time to see the potential in a person or the patience to draw that out. He started slowly but he’s come a long, long way,” he said.

Before Beals came to the program, he had been in and out of hospital for four years dealing with mental illness. He was unable to work and had to go on disability assistance.

He has always been passionate about recycling, so when a friend told him about CSE, he decided to give it a try. He started slowly, working one day a week, then two.

“I started feeling better, mentally and physically,” he says. “Doing physical activity and being out around town all day seeing different sites made me feel more mentally alive.”

Matt Dirks is the new manager for CSE.

He believes that social enterprise is a positive way to support people who live with challenges because of its unique focus.

“Social enterprise isn’t people over profits or profits over people,” he says. “It serves people through profits by offering meaningful employment training.”

He said being part of a team creates a sense of belonging and gives opportunities for contribution.

Having a reason to get up every morning, a positive place to go, and the chance to earn money all help improve one’s confidence and self-esteem, he added.

Beals became a driver/mentor to other clients and was soon managing accounts in the office.

Today he works halftime in the office and halftime on the truck and is now the operations supervisor.

Beals also helps other clients with their goal planning. He has not been in the hospital since he came to work at CSE and is no longer on disability assistance.

He also took a peer support training course and did that work for a year.

In October 2012, he married his sweetheart, who also works for Communitas.

Beals continues to have a hopeful outlook on life.

“I feel good. This job still gives me purpose, confidence, being part of a team, and a social aspect,” he said. “Having a boss that understands mental illness has been huge.”

For more information about Communitas Social Enterprises, visit communitasenterprises.com.