Arkel’s partnership with social service program for developmentally challenged

Surely you know Arkel makes the best bicycle pannier bags, but do you know it's also a great company with strong values? In an era marked by outsourcing and automation, Arkel is a place where people still matter, creating and giving back to the community is second nature, and making a quality product one bag at a time is how we roll.

Since 2003, we have been working with a lively crew from CRDITED Estrie - a social service program for folks with Intellectual Disabilities and Pervasive Development Disorders.

Brenda, Sharon, Christine, Micheline, Stéphanie, Kathy, Kenneth, François Cynthia, Daria, Dany, Bruce, Nancy, Gilles, and their educator Denise have been helping with the assembly of our Cam-Lock mounting system, putting together our user guides, cutting bungee cords and webbing, and much more right here with us every day! 

How it all started

This whole partnership was initiated by Linda, our office manager, a long time ago when Arkel was still a fairly small company. We had a lot of small tasks that had to be accomplished and Linda put Paul in contact with the center, and the partnership started.

Linda knew about CRDITED Estrie because of her little sister Nancy (in the above picture). Linda has been taking care of her forever. To help their father, Linda took Nancy in her small one-bedroom apartment when she was young, camping on weekends and helping Nancy in her daily routine. Linda did this because she realized that Nancy felt good and was learning and developing better socially. 

The program’s goal was to bring these guys and girls within the walls of the company in a real world work environment. This is ideal because it creates the best learning environment to develop manual and social skills. At that time our shop was too small and lacked the proper space to accommodate them, so work was brought to them at their local “Atelier”. In 2008 the shop was relocated into a larger building where we created an area for the CRDITED crew. 

They are part of Arkel's family

We think of them as family around here. Once the designers have finished creating our bags and the seamstresses have stitched them tight, the gang from CRDITED Estrie goes to work assembling and putting the finishing touches on each pannier and bag.

More than being treated with dignity and given a great work environment, the crew from CRDITED Estrie develops social skills and abilities that foster their integration and social participation in daily life.

David (picture above) is a good example of how successful this program is. After 8 years working for Arkel, he has graduated from the “Plateau” and has moved up to the intern program. So he is now working and supervised by our head seamstress Louise, and our assembler Stéphane. We are very proud of David’s progression.

Each one of these amazing people contributes to Arkel's success. Without their energy, laughter, and dedication, Arkel’s bags would have a little less soul.