“Everything and everyone deserves a second chance.”
That’s the philosophy of Second Chance Inc., a Baltimore-based non-profit that deconstructs homes and other buildings to salvage materials for reuse. It’s also a philosophy that the American Wood Council (AWC) supports. Therefore, it was an easy decision for AWC to choose Second Chance for AWC’s 2018 volunteer Day of Service in mid-November.
Second Chance is built around the principles of retraining, reclaiming, and renewing. In doing so, Second Chance provides “green collar” training and jobs to inner-city unemployed, reclaims building materials to reduce what goes to landfill, and sells these materials to preserve the region’s architectural heritage and provide funding back into the program.
As its own circular economy, Second Chance accepts donated buildings for deconstruction, harvests the building materials otherwise destined for land fill, and then makes them available for purchase at their warehouse/retail facility. Revenue generated from sales is then channeled back into job training and workforce development for city residents who often have a difficult time finding full-time employment. As one of its goals, Second Chance has a clear aim to prepare these employees for reintroduction into the workforce, well-trained for better-paying construction jobs.
Offered the choice, about half of the AWC staff worked at a home deconstruction site in northern Virginia, salvaging approximately 1,000 square feet of hardwood flooring. The other half worked at the Second Chance warehouse, processing and sorting salvaged materials for resale.
To all of us, the pride Second Chance employees take in their jobs was evident, and working side-by-side with them allowed AWC employees to gain a better understanding of the challenges of inner-city life, learn more about the nature of their work and skills development, and hear their stories and the positive impact that Second Chance has had on them.
The wood industry supports sustainable communities and organizations like Second Chance, and the AWC staff was glad to be able to play a small role by helping out. In providing sorely needed jobs, a market for recovered materials, and reintroduction of those materials into the marketplace, these organizations are an important part of the growing circular economy.
Notably, the North American wood products industry has a long-standing commitment to sustainability in its products and their use. It was with this commitment in mind that AWC worked with the Canadian Wood Council and Building Materials Reuse Association to develop the Wood Reuse & Recycling Directory (www.reusewood.org), that helps match those having with those seeking wood products for reuse and recycling.
Reflecting on the Volunteer Day, AWC’s Marcie Weeber said, “It was an honor and privilege to serve in such an important mission with my coworkers. Beyond assisting in the warehouse, the chance to work with an organization that is bringing real change to people’s lives, while at the same time recovering and repurposing beautiful pieces of wood and timber, was an amazing gift to receive.”