To thank everyone who has supported us during our first 25 we want to share with you 25 stories, one from each year ReSOURCE was your community partner in providing Education & Job Skills Training, Environmental Stewardship, & Economic Opportunities to our local communities in Vermont.
Thank You for Celebrating our 25th Anniversary!
Thank you everyone for supporting us during our first 25 years. We have enjoyed sharing with you 25 stories, one from each year ReSOURCE was your community partner in providing Education & Job Skills Training, Environmental Stewardship, & Economic Opportunities to our local communities in Vermont. Wishing you a Happy New Year & Here's to the Next 25!
The YouthBuild Carpentry Challenge
In May of 2015, ReSOURCE YouthBuild crews from Barre and Burlington drove to Methuen, Massachusetts to compete in the 17th Annual YouthBuild Carpentry Challenge. All teams were given plans and lumber for a building project to complete within a limited amount of time. Participants were presented with the challenge of working as a team to build a three wall structure in approximately three hours. In addition to satisfying building specifications such as height requirements and nailing schedules, teams also had to keep key safety standards in mind. Teams lost points for infractions like tippy ladders, protruding nails, and untucked clothing. The students were on their own doing all the work themselves, with just one instructor acting as a coach from outside the taped off construction zone.
This competition really puts the students’ skills, knowledge, and efficiency to the test. The students had to work from the plans to do the math and create their own cut lists, and then collaborate as a team on the construction of their wall structure. After a long day, ReSOURCE YouthBuild came home with both the Gold & Bronze medals! ReSOURCE YouthBuild Barre finished with a bronze medal and YouthBuild Burlington took home the gold out of the eight regional YouthBuild teams competing.
The Symbiosis of our Mission
ReSOURCE’s central purpose is to protect the environment, alleviate poverty, and help youth and long-term unemployed individuals develop job skills that allow them to become gainfully employed. Our ability to accomplish these tasks by finding synergies between each element of our mission is what makes the organization unique. The symbiosis between the three points, and the synergies created in combining them can be demonstrated by following the path of one product – a computer.
In 2014, we distributed over 700 computers, but that represents a fraction of computers, monitors, and other e-waste we diverted from the landfills. Donated computers go through our Apprentice-style Systems Technology program, where they are evaluated, refurbished, hard drives wiped clean, and are loaded with new licensed software by skilled technicians and trainees. This hands-on experience helps our trainees to earn certifications and provides them with valuable skills, making them more employable. Refurbished computers are then given to families in need through our Essential Goods Program, or sold in our stores, where revenue generated supports all of ReSOURCE’s programs.
Saving >1,000 tons from the Landfill
Did you know that construction materials make up between 25% - 40% of our waste stream in the USA? Yet so much of that material can be reused. Imagine reducing our national contribution to landfills by one third! And any products which can be reused saves natural resources and energy in the production of their new replacements.
Salvaging may require a little more time and effort than demolition, but can save money and help keep our environment cleaner. For those who cannot do the work themselves, ReSOURCE offers several environmental services, such as Deconstruction to keep this construction waste out of the landfill. Our DeCon crew can dissemble a house, shed, deck, or barn and haul the lumber, cabinets, and hardware back to our stores for resale. The amount of material diverted from the landfill reached new heights in 2013 with 500,083 items reused, weighing 1,080 tons.
Measuring Our Impact
1.4 million items and 5,264 tons of waste diverted and used in the relief of poverty. 7 million dollars’ worth of household goods and building materials salvaged and reused locally. 4,619 individuals and families given essential goods. 80 units of affordable housing built, rehabbed were weatherized. 122 trainees placed in jobs or college. These are some of the major impact ReSOURCE has had across Vermont over the past five years. We measure out success using a set of social balance indicators that cover our three part mission areas as well as indicators on long-term sustainability.
Still, raw numbers don’t tell the full story. Kenny was part of YouthBuild team that worked on rebuilding low-income housing in Waterbury after Tropical Storm Irene. Kenny came to YouthBuild in 2011 as a 24-years old high school dropout, trying to support a family of four and tired of living off “the system”. The construction and academic training he received with us gave him a new hope. In his own words “it feels really nice to get out there and help people and know that you’ve helped them in a really good way.” Kenny shows up in these social balance indicators as having obtaining his high school degree, industry recognized certifications, being placed in a good construction job, and having played a role in both the housing built and weatherized for low income families.
Kenny’s and ReSOURCE’s successes would not have been possible without the incredible support of so many people in the community who have donated their time, gently used goods, and money to support our programs and services to the community.
ReLIEF During Tropical Storm Irene
The Essential Goods Program is measured in several ways. The number of people served, the number of partner agencies participating, the ability of the organization to use the program to train Apprentice-style and Work Experience trainees, and the amount of material diverted from landfills.
2011 provided a new opportunity for the “ReLIEF” Essential Goods Program; providing assistance to Vermont individuals, families and businesses affected by Tropical Storm Irene, extending services far beyond the voucher program. ReSOURCE established a flood relief fund to provide essential services free of charge to low income Vermonters who lack insurance and the necessary support needed to recover from the devastating flooding in the wake of Tropical Storm Irene.
ReSOURCE’s Barre operation quickly teamed up with Central Vermont Long Term Recovery Committee and ReBuild Waterbury, helping to provide information and voucher assistance to those most affected by the flooding in central Vermont. And, ReSOURCE’s YouthBuild program provided clean up services to over 25 homes and businesses in the Waterbury/Montpelier area. In 2011, ReLIEF provided $133,060 worth of goods to 991 individuals/families in Chittenden County and the greater Barre area. This includes 12 individuals and 19 families affected by Tropical Strom Irene.
Green Job Council
In 2010, ReSOURCE began an exciting 2-year project to examine its current training programs and expand its job skills training for the Apprentice-style and YouthBuild programs. ReSOURCE convened a 12 member Green Job Council, comprised of experts in the fields of heating, ventilating and air conditioning, alternative energy manufactures and installers, utility representatives, and local employers to identify best practices in these additional training fields and supported employment for participants.
ReSOURCE understands that certain skills are in more demand than others, certain fields are experiencing high-growth and need more trained workers, and some future employees need additional time before they will become successfully employed. This advisory panel helped assess ReSOURCE’s current and future training programs so that they more closely aligned with specific skills with the highest demand.
From ReCycle North to ReSOURCE
In 2009, supporters saw ReCycle North grow into ReSOURCE, start a new social enterprise and YouthBuild program in Barre, develop more vibrant retail operations, and welcome new trainees, volunteers, and staff. The name change was inspired by the hopes to broaden the public’s understanding of the organization. ReCycle North recognized that there was a poor fit between the name ReCycle North, and the organizations mission; people know the household goods/thrift store, but a large population was unaware of the Building Materials store, computer and appliance repair service, voucher programs and the various training programs offered. ReSOURCE: A Nonprofit Community Enterprise, an organization to develop a social enterprise through a combination or reuse, repair, and retraining creating unique opportunities for skill development through hands-on training and meaningful practice.
Business Spotlight: Close to Home
In 2008, ReCycle North continued to develop community business partnerships with local businesses as part of the ongoing effort to increase inventory of building materials and household goods. Close to Home, a decorative hardware and bath showroom in Williston had recently joined our reuse, training, and poverty relief efforts. In July on that year, the company donated more than $7,600 worth of products to ReCycle North’s Building Materials Center.
Close to Home’s generous donation included a slew of miscellaneous bath fixtures, decorative hardware, sinks, and door knobs. Among the many trinkets and treasures, the cast-iron claw foot tub was a real gem that sold in days. Like many businesses that donate to ReCycle North, Close to Home found themselves with a large amount of left-over inventory, which included customer returns, discontinued models, and slightly blemished pieces. Rather than disposing of these items in the landfill, Close to Home donated them to the Building Materials Center.
“ReCycle North’s Community Business Partner program is a perfect vehicle for us [Close to Home] to give back to the community. They made it easy for us to clean out our warehouse, and we look forward to continuing to use this amazing program to give back to our community.”
ReCycle North hosted its first Learn, Earn, and Prosper (LEAP) students in 2007. During the month long program; which included learning to work as a team, take the bus to work, and living away from home; six students were placed in various departments throughout ReCycle North where they spent four days a week learning professional skills and one day a week doing community service projects. The goal of the program is for students to gain technical/professional skills and gain independent living skills. Through this program, participants are able to gain confidence and the skills necessary for their future.
LEAP was created in partnerships with VT Youth Conservation Corps, the Gibney Foundation, VT Division for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Linking Learning to Life, VT Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired, and the VT Association of Business, Industry and Rehabilitation.
In 2016, ReSOURCE not only hosted students but became the home organization for the program. Many students still work within ReSOURCE, but also in partner organizations based on their interests.
ReCycle North’s Waste-Not-Products began in 2006 as a new enterprise that will create social and financial value from human and material resources that are otherwise wasted. By putting people to work manufacturing attractive new products from construction waste, this project will improve ReCycle North’s ability to achieve its mission of reuse, job training, and poverty relief, and will also offer a unique opportunity to unemployed and disadvantaged youth by giving them the training, job skills, and career development support they need to succeed. ReCycle North will design, create, and market different products ranging from simple picture frames to large garden sheds all made from discarded construction materials.
Under the guidance of an AmeriCorps project coordinator, YouthBuild, Career Start, and LEAP students will also lead this effort through independent projects that allow them to dream up new Waste-Not-Products made from salvaged materials. They will follow up by building prototypes, evaluating production costs, and doing mini-marketing analyses. This will teach creative, financial, and entrepreneurial skills while at the same time creating possible new products that will allow both ReCycle North and its students to grow.
WANTED: 200 Brides
In 2005, ReCycle North received one of its most unusual donations ever: 200 brand new wedding dresses! Although clothing isn’t generally accepted, ReCycle North accepted the generous donation from Brides Way and Fiori Bridal and coordinated a huge Wedding Gown Sale the following April in 2006. With advertising donated by the Burlington Free Press and WOKO, and ballroom space donated by the Sheraton Burlington, the event was a true community effort!
The sales generated $10,000 for ReCycle North’s Essential Goods Program and helped nearly 100 local brides find, and afford, the gown of their dreams. ReCycle North also gave vouchers for gowns to 6 local brides in need and solicited local businesses to donate gift certificates for a free wedding celebration package to give to one struggling couple. The You Deserve It package included first dibs on a free gown, a free tuxedo rental, and a night on the town in Burlington.
So, what happened to the remaining 100 gowns? After researching various options ranging from rent-a-gown shops in Las Vegas to Filene’s Basement and local charities, ReCycle North ended up donating the leftover gowns to a church in Uganda that was planning a mass wedding for 79 couples in July of 2006.
YouthBuild comes to ReCycle North
Success is all about hard work and opportunity. But for many young people without a high school diploma, the pathways are limited. YouthBuild is a multinational program that creates opportunities for high school dropouts to learn valuable construction skills, earn their degree and work towards their desired career. In 2004, ReSOURCE took on the Vermont YouthBuild program, opening up 12 spots to the youth of Burlington. In 2010, ReSOURCE opened another YouthBuild program in Barre, and we currently operate the only two YouthBuild programs in Vermont, serving 30 young Vermonters a year.
“YouthBuild provides an incredible experience for young adults to make positive changes in their lives. I love working at YouthBuild because the benefits are so immediate and tangible for both the student and the community.” -Kaelyn Murray, YouthBuild program Manager
Students learn through service projects, building low income housing, and classroom instruction. The program emphasizes leadership development, community service and fostering personal development.
Building a Barn with BMC
Max & Cheryl had a dream of building a barn, but the high cost of materials and the demands of running a business and working separate full time jobs kept the project on hold for several years. When they learned about ReCycle North’s Building Materials Center they started to explore building opportunities. With a combination of new and used materials they were able to construct a 72’x36’ barn for a fraction of the cost of all-new construction. Max & Cheryl couldn’t have been able to do it without the help of BMC staff and the great quality materials they found at our store. In addition to being an alternative to the landfill, even in its first three years BMC was, and still is today, a valuable resource to Vermont residents from throughout the state who need affordable materials to fix up their house, landscape the yard, or build the barn of their dreams.
ReUSE with VCR's
Students in the Mt. Mansfield Union High School’s Applied Science Physics classes in 2002 had a blast through an innovative partnership with ReCycle North. One of their projects called for students to work in teams using guts from old VCR’s to build devices that can cross their classroom on a suspended cable. Students competed to see how many times their device could cross the room in three minutes and created a portfolio that highlighted and explained the physics, math, and technology concepts used to build the device.
ReCycle North had supported this project for at least 7 years with scores of VCR’s. “The students would not be able to experience the wonderful design/build project without ReCycle North’s donation,” thanked Technology Education teacher Jon Harris. ReCycle North worked hard to find innovative uses for obsolete materials, from hardwood floors to VCR’s, and was especially pleased when the new use protected the environment and made a high school science class come to life.
The apprentice-style training program at ReCycle North saw an influx of qualified applicants in 2001 who had excellent skills in their prior careers. Many trainees and their vocational supports viewed ReCycle North’s well-developed programs as an efficient and effective way to retrain for a competitive career.
It was in 2001 that the Apprentice-style program launched a new mentoring program that linked each trainee to a professional peer in his or her industry. Homebrewed Concoction, LLC, was one of the mentoring companies located in Burlington specializing in networking, web applications design, and audio services, with a focus on providing accessible, low-cost technology assistance to the non-profit community. When asked to support the computer training program, the company saw it as a perfect opportunity to expand its services to the community.
This mentor experience gave trainees the opportunity to get an insider’s view on a job in their desired career, as well as the chance to see first-hand what skills would be needed to be competitive when they graduated the program.
Kappa Kappa DeCon
In the year 2000, Recycle North opened the new Building Materials Center at 339 Pine Street and started offering deconstruction services. Our new location gave the community a place to drop off salvageable building materials such as cabinets, windows, lumber, hardware, bathroom fixtures, and more that would have otherwise crowded the landfills.
Our Deconstruction Team - Matt, Ryan, Evan, and Chris - were college buddies, and the team quickly became known as Kappa Kappa DeCon. They worked with contractors and homeowners to ensure reusable building materials were removed in a safe and eco-friendly way.
Also in 2000, Recycle North... ...won 3-year funding to improve training program through Vermont’s Workforce Investment and Training Fund. ...rescued $585,563 worth of appliances, electronics, computers, and other household goods from landfills. Up 12% from 1999. ...was awarded the Harry Chapin Self-Reliance Award from World Hunger Year.
The Year of Computer Reuse
1999 was the year of computer reuse at ReCycle North. While steady improvements were made in all departments, computer reuse saw the largest increase in sales and reuse over previous years. Through newly acquired training space, the Computer Reuse department gained a new office with plenty of shelving to store components, a work space to refurbish items, and a full time Computer Manager. Also through the expansion in the Apprentice-style training program, the first trainees were enrolled in Office Administration and Computer Systems Technology.
Computer Reuse Accomplishments: refurbished & sold or gave away 161 computers & 116 individual computer components.
A Year of Excellence
1998 was a great year for ReCycle North; not only did we launch several new training programs, but we also received two awards of excellence for our growing services. ReCycle North was awarded the Governor's Award for Excellence in Employment & Training, and a HUD (Housing and Urban Development) John J. Gunther Blue Ribbon award for excellence in economic development.
The Governor’s Award honors individuals and businesses for outstanding accomplishments and contributions in helping achieve the states workforce development goals. In 1998 ReCycle North started two new training programs: Computer Systems and Office Administration and trained 31 trainees through our growing job skills training programs.
The HUD award recognizes a wide range of outstanding and innovative work to expand affordable housing, create jobs, strengthen local economies, fight housing discrimination, reduce homelessness, increase homeownership and accomplish other goals to improve life in America's communities. Since the beginning, ReCycle North had the mission to serve homeless, and all those in need, by offering opportunities for individuals to obtain the goods and skills necessary to be successful in life.
What's with that field full of trailers?
In 1997, ReCycle North continued to grow as reuse sales and service revenue passed the $400,000 mark & there became a need to begin renting trailers for seasonal furniture storage.
As highlighted in a 2011 Seven Days article, Burlington residents were curious about “What's with that field full of trailers on Pine Street?” Starting in 1997, at the old location of the Greyhound bus terminal off of Pine Street, more than a dozen trailers held furniture and building materials for ReCycle North. As many of our shoppers come to know, the store gets inundated with donations at certain times of the year. “We started with two trailer loads full of furniture” in 1997, says the nonprofit’s executive director, Tom Longstreth, “because all summer things come in, and we feed off of them in the winter,” to ensure an even supply of goods all year round.
Welcome Tom Longstreth, Executive Director
Tom Longstreth grew up in New York City and came to ReCycle North in 1996, fresh out of Harvard with a masters from the JFK School of Government. Tom was drawn to the position of Executive Director for ReCycle North, because of the organization’s environmental mission, and the opportunity to grow the fledgling training program. Tom has applied his creativity and seemingly boundless energy to improving the lives and livelihoods of hundreds of people in our community.
Back then, Longstreth was the only administrative position, there were eight staffers, one building, and a $300,000 annual budget. “My whole background has really been in job training,” he says, “preparing and helping low-income, disadvantaged people become self-sufficient and gain new opportunities.” It was in 1996, that ReCycle North launched the BHAP 6-month apprentice-style training program in Appliance Repair and Electronics, which enrolled 10 trainees into the program.
Today, the organization has grown and now employs about ninety staff, annually serves close to 250 trainees, and operates in five social enterprise locations that work to protect the environment while serving the community. Tom has worked tirelessly to establish ReSOURCE as a well-respected and reliable organization that is devoted to serving the needs of the people of Vermont. Congratulations & Thank You Tom for the last 20 years!
266 Pine Street & The "Fix-It" Appliance Shop
In 1995 ReCycle North moved to our current 266 Pine Street location and opened "Fix-It" now our Small Appliance Repair shop. Our small appliance repair team tests every small household appliance (blenders, fans, radios, lamps, coffee makers, etc.) and electronic that comes into our Household Goods Stores, preparing (and repairing) them for resale. Through this service, we prevent tons of waste from entering our landfill.
True to our mission, “Fix-It” was managed by trainees training in appliance repair to find jobs as appliance technicians. This training program now includes pathways to becoming an HVAC (heating, ventilating, and air conditioning) technician. Interested trainees follow the normal appliance training and obtain certifications that apply to both fields — LP and natural gas, refrigeration — and then are placed with an outside HVAC employer to finish training. One of the many ways ReSOURCE is helping to create Less Waste & More Opportunity.
The Job Training Partnership Act
In 1994 ReCycle North was awarded the Job Training Partnership Act (JTPA) grant. The JTPA established federal assistance programs to prepare youth and unskilled adults for entry into the labor force and to provide job training to economically disadvantaged and other individuals facing serious barriers to employment. This grant allowed ReCycle North to train 10 clients who were homeless.
It was also in 1994 that ReCycle North was asked to leave its site at 316 Pine Street. The organization pursued many locations without success - going as far as painting the interior of the Vermont Transit Bus Barn and developing plans to build a free standing building… But this space crisis would severely limit ReCycle North’s ability to meet JTPA grant requirements, so ReCycle North persevered and continued to search for a new home.
What happened around Burlington in 1993? ...
• Burlington Vermont got 22.4" of snow from March 13-14th, ranking #7 on the top greatest snowstorms in Vermont. • The Jamestown Expos moved to Burlington, becoming our Vermont Expos minor league Baseball team with the beloved mascot: Champ • Back in 1849 workers building the railroad in Charlotte found the skeleton of a whale from over 12,500 years ago when Vermont was covered by the Champlain Sea. In 1993, the white whale became the Vermont State Fossil; Commemorated in the sculpture Whales Tails located along I-89. • AND at ReCycle North, we had just purchased our first Box Truck for Pick-Ups & Deliveries!
Pete Bickmore, Appliance Manager
If you have ever been to ReSOURCE, you have seen all the refrigerators, dryers, stoves, and washers lined up for sale. The machines have been refurbished and cleaned by our Large Appliance Department. The person responsible for ReSOURCE's large appliance department for the past 24 years —training apprentices and repairing machines— is Pete Bickmore.
Pete Bickmore, ReSOURCE’s Appliance Manager has been a central part of ReSOURCE for 24 years. Pete started ReSOURCE’s appliance repair and training program back in 1992 and has developed the training curriculum and expanded the department’s capacity. Pete has personally provided technical and broader life training to our Apprentice-style and Work Experience Trainees in his tenure at ReSOURCE. Most of these trainees have obtained industry recognized certifications and gone on to find good quality jobs. ReSOURCE is committed to providing a self-sustaining social enterprise so that its programs, people, and promises can grow and serve more people each year. Thanks for all you do for ReSOURCE Pete!
The Start of ReCycle North
In 1991 in Burlington, Vermont ReCycle North began an innovative program of repairing and reselling household items that otherwise would have gone to waste, while offering opportunities for individuals in need to obtain the goods and skills necessary to be successful in life.
ReCycle North opened its doors at 316 Pine Street, to offer quality used goods at an affordable price to the general public, and also through an Essential Goods Program to provide a low cost, respectful, and collaborative way for people in need to obtain essential goods. In an effort to create jobs and provide skills to unemployed individuals, ReCycle North also began to offer Appliance Repair and Electronics Repair training programs to serve homeless trainees.
Ron Krupp, the founder and director of the Pine Street store was quoted in the Burlington Free Press article from 1991 stating that ReCycle North is “an ecological goodwill venture… fewer useful items will end up in the landfill; inexpensive goods will be available to the community; homeless people, and others, will learn valuable skills repairing donated items and the business will initiate cooperation between organizations that normally function independently.” It was a new opportunity for Burlington residents to make a change in their community.