Victor Foley: Teaching sustainability to local teens
by Wendy Halfenbaum
You never know where you’re going to meet your next opportunity, as CN Railroader in the Community Victor Foley discovered. The retired Intermodal Heavy Equipment Operator was sitting in his dentist’s waiting room in 2009 when a chance conversation with a school board member inspired him to give back to his community. “She was looking for someone to teach the kids how to put used computers back together, and she asked, ‘Would you come and teach the kids how to do this?’” recalls Victor, who ended his career at CN in March 2010 after nearly 34 years of service. “I could have said, ‘I’m looking forward to my pension while I sit and do nothing,’ but instead, I said, ‘If it keeps me busy and out of trouble, why not?’” Within a few months, Victor began volunteering for Riverdale High School’s CFER Program (Centre de Formation en Entreprise et Recyclage), an innovative work-study program where students divide their time between in-class instruction and on-site work centred on an environmental theme. The Riverdale chapter, located in Pierrefonds, Quebec, is the only English-language CFER in the province, and their main task is recycling computer components. The school receives donations of unused or discarded equipment from retail partners such as Bureau en Gros and other local businesses. “We recycle computer and electronic devices to help protect our environment and return usable parts to those who may be in need,” explains Victor, who spends about 15 hours each week teaching students how to recycle and rebuild computers for various charitable organizations.
“I tell the kids what components we need, then they go through the piles, disassemble the computers and put all the separate components into different bins,” says Victor. “I show them how to put in the hard drive and the memory, and how to check that everything functions properly. Then we put the computers back together again, and distribute them to different organizations, such asNazareth House, which helps homeless people. We gave them six computers last year.” In 2010 Victor received a certificate of appreciation from the Lester B. Pearson school board, in recognition of his volunteer work at Riverdale High. Victor’s CFER program recently received a CN Railroaders in the Community grant, for which he is extremely grateful. “I think it’s a very good program, and I’m happy that CN is now offering this grant to retirees who volunteer,” he says.
Foley with students in the computer-recycling workshop at
Riverdale High School
Reprinted with permission
CN Spotlight, CN's employee biweekly newsletter
August 29, 2011
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