Dennis Renaud (fourth from right) holds the cheque he got from his former colleagues at Courtenay Return-It to help him out since he was diagnosed with cancer. Photo by Mike Chouinard

Island bottle depot holds drive to help former worker

Dennis Renaud was diagnosed with cancer only months after retiring

Dennis Renaud would’ve handled a lot of bottles over his years at Courtenay Return-It. He wouldn’t have known though that bottles would come to his aid during a crisis after retiring.

When he finished work in January 2020, he obviously left a few friends behind at the depot. The 71-year-old was looking forward to retirement with his partner Barb, but in April, only three months after finishing his job, he got the news he’d been diagnosed with stage four lung cancer, which has required chemotherapy and medication for treatment as well as pain.

His former employer and colleagues put their efforts together to help him out during treatment. One of the employees, Richard Cook, camp up with an idea to hold a bottle drive to raise funds for Renaud so he can enjoy this stage of his life.

The business held the drive on Saturday, July 25. Hundreds of people through the Comox Valley donated their bottles, while a large team of staff and volunteers gave their time to sort the bottles. Courtenay Return-It employees Cook, Joel Johnson, Linda Billings, Hazel Chung, Gordon Oostenbrink and Richard Dimery took part in the effort, as did community members Matthew Orlowsky, Karen Forsyth-Lavoie, Cindy Albert, Natasha Villeneuve and Lori Antunovic.

In the end, they raised enough money to present Renaud with a cheque for $13,676.20. They raised another $90 in cash donations since they cut the cheque and had another couple hundred dollars in account to help him. The bottle depot has held other drives before, but the most money they had raised was about $2,500.

RELATED STORY: Return-It recycling depot service returns to Courtenay

As to how he was going to use the money, Renaud said he didn’t know how exactly – maybe take a helicopter flight to the top of the glacier and take a photo from the summit.

At the presentation on the evening of July 30, owner Sook Lee read a message to him, which her daughter Emily Kim translated.

“The biggest blessing while running a business is having good employees,” she said, crediting him for his effort and never making excuses. “As a business owner, I am lucky to have such an employee and friend.”

Renaud started work at the bottle depot in 2006 when it was at a different location, then left for a little over a year before returning. The way he described his approach to working at Return-It explains why his employer appreciated him.

“I’m a strong supporter of customer service,” he said.

When Lee was finished reading her letter, she and Renaud each made a socially distanced hugging gesture. He said he was touched by what his colleagues did, though he admitted he was not a man of many words.

“I’m very overwhelmed,” he said. “I’ve been told by a lot of people I’m very positive.”



mike.chouinard@comoxvalleyrecord.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Cancer

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Vancouver Island MLA says too much on shoulders of RCMP

Reformed Police Act could look at spreading responsibility to other responders

Greater Victoria non-profit advocates for the use of psilocybin for terminal patients

North Saanich psychotherapist pushes for alternative treatment

Victoria woman to sell masks on wheels after garage stand shut down

Mama’s Masks stand accompanied Moss Street Market

Victoria council recommends prioritizing housing for people in the area for at least a year

The motion passed unanimously during committee of the whole meeting

Langford mulling move to mainstream

Council to consider livestreaming meetings in September

STANDING TALL: Forestry workers meet the challenges, remain hopeful

A look at the forest sector in B.C. – and those hoping for the best – amid mill curtailments

Missed rent payments ‘cause of COVID-19? You have until July 2021 to pay up

Each monthly instalment must be paid on the same date the rent is due.

U.S.-Canada pandemic border restrictions extended into September

‘We will continue to keep our communities safe,’ says Public Safety Minister Bill Blair

578 British Columbians currently infected with COVID-19

Seventy-eight new cases confirmed in past 24 hours

WE Charity registers as lobbyist, lays off staff, looking to sell real estate

WE Charity said its financial position has been greatly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic

Captive fawn seized from Island home

Valley resident charged and fined under the Wildlife Act

Bamfield residents, visitors pressure province as anniversary of fatal crash approaches

Letter-writing campaign makes ‘heartfelt, emotional pleas’ to improve road conditions

Pandemic could be driving more parents to get on board with flu shot: study

University of B.C. study gauges willingness for parents to vaccinate children for influenza

Watchdog clears Okanagan RCMP in death of man after arrest over alleged stolen pizzas

The man died in hospital after having difficulty breathing and broken ribs

Most Read