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

The candidates for the Mid Island-Pacific Rim riding in the 2020 provincial election. Clockwise from top left: Rob Clarke, Graham Hughes, Evan Jolicoeur, Helen Poon and Josie Osborne. Osborne was declared the winner on Saturday night. (Photos submitted )
POLL QUESTION: Are you happy with the results of B.C.’s provincial election?

Josie Osborne of the BC NDP and Tofino’s now-former mayor won the Mid Island - Pacific Rim seat.

Ucluelet RCMP detachment. (Westerly file photo)
Driver facing charges after crashing into pedestrian at Ucluelet crosswalk

“It’s a reminder to slow down and pay attention,” said Sgt. Steve Mancini.

Josie Osborne and her campaign team watch the results roll in during B.C.’s provincial election on Saturday night. (Photo courtesy of Josie Osborne)
Tofino expected to wait until New Year to elect new mayor after Josie Osborne wins provincial seat

Josie Osborne is the West Coast’s new MLA and that means Tofino needs a new mayor.

Dylan Hillis preparing collagen samples from ancient dog bones at the UBC musuem of Anthropology. Photo: Eric Guiry
Ancient ‘woolly dog’ ate mostly fish, new University of Victoria study finds

Study gives researchers better understanding of human-dog relationships on Tsehaht First Nation

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count jumps by 287, another senior home outbreak

Two more deaths recorded, community outbreak in Okanagan

MMFN First Nation has said that it will restrict access to portion of Highway 28 that passes through the Nation’s land until a road use agreement is reached. (Black Press file photo)
Vancouver Island First Nation blocks highway access to logging trucks in Gold River

Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation restricting access for Western Forest Products pending road deal

An untitled Emily Carr painting of Finlayson Point was donated to the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria by brothers Ian and Andrew Burchett. The painting had been in their family for several decades. (Courtesy of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria)
Never before seen painting by famed B.C. artist Emily Carr gifted to Victoria gallery

Painting among several donated to Art Gallery of Greater Victoria

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
Rescued bald eagle that came to life in B.C. man’s car had lead poisoning

Bird is on medication and recovering in rehab centre

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

The B.C. Centre for Disease control is telling people to keep an eye out for the poisonous death cap mushroom, which thrives in fall weather conditions. (Paul Kroeger/BCCDC)
Highly poisonous death cap mushroom discovered in Comox

This marks first discovery on Vancouver Island outside Greater Victoria area

Janet Austin, lieutenant governor of B.C., was presented with the first poppy of the Royal Canadian Legion’s 2020 Poppy Campaign on Wednesday. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)
PHOTOS: B.C. Lieutenant Governor receives first poppy to kick off 2020 campaign

Janet Austin ‘honour and a privileged’ to receive the poppy

Cowichan Search and Rescue set up near the Silver Bridge in Duncan on Wednesday morning, Oct. 28, 2020 to rescue a dog from the Cowichan River. (Citizen file)
Cowichan Search and Rescue save dog from icy Cowichan River

Search and Rescue’s swiftwater team was called in

Most Read