Pat Hebert's company mission statement can be summarized as "improving tomorrow by keeping resources at work today." His business, Thriftopia.com
, may focus on solving the 50,000,000 ton global e-waste problem to protect the environment, but its mandate includes protecting human resources, too. The company is committed to providing work to people who face barriers to employment.
As a former CAMH client who has received services for bipolar disorder, Pat is no stranger to facing life and work challenges. Now in his mid-20s, Pat was diagnosed with clinical depression at 14 and bipolar disorder at 18. As well, he lives with a prosthetic eye and diabetes. A few years ago he fell into a downward cycle and was unable to cope due to his mental and physical health issues. His parents became aware of CAMH through the Transforming Lives media campaign and as a result, Pat received inpatient and outpatient treatment here.
Through a combination of talk therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy, and mindfulness practice, Pat began his recovery. During this time he discovered that most employers operate on a 'don't ask, don't tell' basis concerning mental illness, which only increases stigma. Further medical issues with his good eye caused him to leave a job that required driving. While waiting for a decision on whether he would receive support from ODSP, he noticed that there was an online market for broken and obsolete electronics.
With his brother (who has a developmental delay and faced his own employment challenges), Pat decided to start his own business to provide jobs for both of them and his fiancée. Based in Barrie, Ontario, Thriftopia.com offers 'responsible computer afterlife management' services to companies and individuals by recycling and reusing obsolete electronics. He now employs five additional people, all who receive ODSP benefits, and works closely with local agency Careers for Inclusion to build his workforce.
Idle or downtime is a trigger for Pat. He says, "At CAMH, I learned how to stay in the moment and keep busy to manage my illness." With big plans to expand his business, he should have little difficulty staying busy and staying well.