OrCon Employees Donate Portion of Christmas Bonuses to Veterans

OrCon Employees Donate Portion of Christmas Bonuses to Veterans


By Cristina Domingues

LEROY, N.Y. — Judy Mills has worked at OrCon for 23 years. She’s the shipping and receiving manager here.

“We’ve had our rough times and our good times, when it come down to this, nobody even questioned it,” Mills said. “Yep we’re doing it.”

Vernon Rivera has worked here for a year making boxes.

“I’m sure if I was in a place where I needed help from somebody, I’d get it,” Rivera  said. “So why not help somebody else?”

OrCon President and CEO Bruce Olson announced at one of his regular monthly employee meetings last year, that after many years without, everyone would be getting a bonus.

That’s also when he showed them a video about the Independence Fund, asking if anyone would be interested in donating. The small not for profit helps wounded vets by giving them special all-terrain wheelchairs, treatments for those with traumatic brain injuries or PTSD or respite trips for caregivers.

OrCon has 58 employees. Every single one of them decided to donate, giving about 10 percent of their bonuses.

“It’s humbling. It really is humbling. This is difficult work. They don’t get paid a lot of money,” Olson  said. “I told them before I wish I could pay them a lot more money. The market is the market and we’ve got to compete, but for their willingness to share, we’re very much a family here.””

All of OrCon’s effort was not lost on the man who heads up the Independence Fund, Tommy Rieman. He came in person to say thank you.

The money the employees gave out of their pockets, matched by OrCon management, paid for two $16,000 wheelchairs for two New York State vets.

“It’s important for our country, to empower our veterans to put them back out there into the workforce and to the community as civic  leaders and that comes with a very large price with mobility or therapies for cognitive,” Rieman said.

Rieman knows a lot about what vets need when they come home. This hero of the Iraq War is a Silver Star and Purple Heart recipient.  In 2003,  his convoy was ambushed abd Rieman used his own body as a shield to protect his gunner. He was shot in the chest and arm and took shrapnel to his legs. They somehow all made it out alive.

He struggled after coming home and today,  speaks out for veterans.

“My voice isn’t loud enough, and it takes people like OrCon Industries help,” Rieman said.

Employees are already working to donate another chair this year.  Olson says OrCon will once again match their contributions and he’s hoping other companies in the area feel inspired to follow suit.

“The veterans are the ones who give us that freedom and the opportunity to have the success we have come from their sacrifices,” Olson  said. “Our sacrifices are nothing compared to what they do.”