Michael Hartland first met Windarring's Peter Young about 15 years ago.
Mr Hartland and Mr Young work together in East Bendigo, sorting recycled clothing in partnership with Southern Cross Recycling Group.
"From when I first met Michael, he has an employee who required hand-on-hand support," Mr Young said.
"Now he has a drivers licence, works independently and has even taken on a leadership role."
Donated goods from Bendigo, Kyneton and Moama are sorted and packed in East Bendigo then transported to Broadmeadows.
"The product we pack is generally shipped overseas to Malaysia, sorted and ends up in Africa and Asia, with some of it sold back through our recycling stores," Mr Young said.
Windarring's work in East Bendigo, known as an Australian Disability Enterprise, supports 14 workers of various abilities.
"It is amazingly rewarding for our workforce to drive, collect, pack, sort and make a real difference," Mr Young said.
An industry veteran, Mr Young said the growth he's seen in Mr Hartland is symbolic of the journey many of the organisation's employees take.
"It's seeing people moving from being dependent on others to working independently that is so inspiring," Mr Young said.
"Their self esteem and sense of worth increases massively and it happens while they are doing worthwhile things for the community."
Mr Young said Mr Hartland's tenacity and hunger to work makes him a valued employee.
"Michael initially attended a day program, which didn't work well for him because all he ever wanted to be was a worker," Mr Young said.
"He's from a farming family and has his own bit of land, which is terrific.
"One of the great things he told me was that for Christmas one year, he got a couple of farm gates."
Mr Hartland's grandmother Lorraine the entire family is proud of Michael's achievements at work.
"Michael's got a great family support system and has always been eager to work," Ms Hartland said.