In Baltimore, unemployed workers, used housewares and the environment get a much-needed second chance. Local nonprofit Second Chance, Inc. works to train and hire the community’s unemployed, putting many of them to work in so-called “green collar” jobs that benefit the environment and preserve the city’s architectural heritage. It’s a three-pronged mission to retrain, reclaim and renew the city’s valuable resources.
Second Chance launched in 2001 with focuses on employment and sustainability. Today, the 501(c)(3) nonprofit operates 200,000 square feet of retail space and employs more than 200 local workers. Second Chance deconstructs old buildings and homes throughout the city, collecting the usable materials – including furniture, light fixtures, and home décor – for resale. Through its work, Second Chance keeps these materials out of landfills and encourages consumers to reuse items that reflect the city’s architectural history.
According to CBS Baltimore, Second Chance raises 99 percent of the money it uses. Its profits go toward job training and workforce development programs. Second Chance employs people from diverse backgrounds, including former prisoners transitioning back into society. Through its programming and work, Second Chance helps unemployed locals develop their skills and give back to the local community.
The employment training program focuses on vital skills of professionalism, including time management, conflict resolution and effective interviewing. Many of the skills developed through the program will also translate to everyday life outside of work. For example, Second Chance also guides its trainees in financial literacy and stress management, which can be particularly important skills for the unemployed.
The results of Second Chance’s work aren’t just abstract. In October, Second Chance reported that it had diverted more than 8.9 million pounds of landfill waste and saved consumers more than $2.5 million so far this year. To do this, Second Chance relied on more than 4,000 volunteer hours and generated more than 121,000 labor hours through its training programs.
Second Chance invests in Baltimore’s most important resources – its people and its environment. Along the way, the new sector of “green collar” jobs that Second Chance has created allows the nonprofit to provide all the benefits of a small business, in terms of job creation and local reinvestment. For more information on Second Chance, Inc., visit www.secondchanceinc.org.