Domtar’s partnership with Association for Vision Rehabilitation and Employment, Inc. (AVRE) began almost two decades ago. In addition to offering vision rehabilitation services and supplies, AVRE creates revenue and jobs for people who are blind or visually impaired through its business division, which offers kitting and assembly operations.
The organization, based in Binghamton, New York, also converts, packages and sells Domtar copy paper and manila folders to federal agencies, New York State government offices and local commercial customers.
Ken Fernald, president and CEO of AVRE, said the organization’s partnership with Domtar is important.
“What keeps us working with Domtar is their commitment to our organization and the commitment they have to the employment of people who are blind,” he said. “They understand what we are trying to accomplish. They get our mission, they look out for our best interests, and they do the right thing every time.”
Fernald, who is legally blind, said companies that offer employment opportunities to people who are blind or visually impaired can help change perceptions among people with sight.
“They see people who are blind working in a modern manufacturing operation, just like anyone else. We have the same product standards, the same quality and the same customer commitment you see anywhere else. It’s just that our people don’t see, or don’t see well,” he said. “Seventy percent of people who are blind are not working at all, so this program is very important.”
In addition to providing paper for conversion, Domtar also works with AVRE to market the sustainability of its private-label paper products. All AVRE copy paper products are sourced from Domtar’s Johnsonburg Mill, which operates a fish hatchery and has helped repopulate wildlife in the region. AVRE’s packaging highlights those accomplishments.
“Our goal is that someone will understand that paper manufacturing is a sustainable process,” said Chris Gagner, Domtar account manager for AVRE. “Domtar is constantly looking for ways to bring value to our customers and to help make the world a better place. If we sell some paper along the way, that’s not a bad thing either.”
People First Industries: Employment for Disabled Adults