MORRISONVILLE — When Dolores LaValley leaves her home and the Morrisonville Redemption Center behind next Friday, she’ll be leaving with nothing but good memories.
“Changes are hard, especially when you’re older,” LaValley said. “Now I know why older people never leave their homes, it’s not easy.”
The Mexican immigrant moved here to be with her then husband in 1976 before opening the redemption center out of her garage at her Route 22B home 7 years later.
LaValley said that she didn’t take the choice to sell the business and home lightly.
“It was almost three years ago that we decided it was time,” LaValley said. “I don’t think you’re ever really ready.”
It stayed on the market for about a year-and-a-half before she pulled it off.
“Then, this past July, I put it back on and it sold right away, and I said, ‘Oh my god, this is real,’” adding that the new owner will continue to operate the center.
The work has changed over time, according to LaValley, with roughly 80 percent of the returnables early on being glass, making some hard, low-profit work for her.
“Over the years, it became more plastic and cans, which got a lot easier and increased the profits,” LaValley said.
What didn’t change, though, was the community support that LaValley received at the redemption center.
“So many kids that started coming here when they were young are now coming here with their families,” LaValley said. “It was difficult to say goodbye to the ones that have been coming here for a long time. I’ve seen kids grow up in front of my eyes, and I’ve developed close relationships with several of them. It was a lot of fun.”
She’s enjoyed her time running the business, even hiring local teens to help sometimes over the summer, but once her daughters April and Yara had grown and gotten an education, the main purpose of the center had been fulfilled.
“I never really considered myself a really good business person, but I consider myself a very good worker,” LaValley said. “The purpose of me working was to help my girls get a good education so they could have good jobs. Once that was accomplished, everything was secondary. I’m happy with the endgame.”
The center itself is now all closed up with all of the bottles and cans gone, and LaValley will be moving to Los Angeles soon to be closer to her older daughter April and grandchild.
For the people who have brought their returnables to her over the years and made her feel at home in the North Country, she only has thanks.
“It’s the place I’ve lived most of my life; this is home,” LaValley said. “I will miss them, and I just want to thank them for making me feel a part of the community.”
Email Ben Watson: