London Community News
By Sean Meyer/London Community News/Twitter: Newswriter22
One of the goals of WOTCH Community Mental Health Services is to assist clients living with serious mental illness to achieve the goal to live independently within the community.
That goal, however, becomes even more complicated than it sounds if WOTCH has difficulty finding employment for its clients. And since that had been an issue for a while now, WOTCH officials decided it would be easier to start its own business than find work for its clients within the community.
To that end, Kevin Dickins, WOTCH manager of community programs, along with Brent Carr, helped create Impact Junk Solutions, a business that provides junk removal services across the city. Impact employees will not only pick up people’s unwanted junk — everything from utensils to furniture and electronics — but they will then turn around and offer those items to those in the community who are in the greatest need.
“Our business concept is pretty simple, create jobs for anyone impacted by the effects of mental illness and provide a better alternative for junk removal services,” Dickins said. “Everything that we pick up, we find a home for. The term junk is something of a misnomer. For example, the plates and dishes and cutlery we have collected has been donated to Mission Services for them to use for those who are gaining housing, sometimes for the first time.”
Whether it is Habitat for Humanity looking for items to offer in their Re-Store, or Goodwill looking for items to resell, Dickins said Impact will turn over items that will best benefit the community. In addition, it also helps divert items from the city’s landfill. In just 50 calls since opening May 2, Dickins said Impact has helped divert over 10 tons of material.
“We really want to be sure to give back to the people who need it. Really, our social mission, as much as it is creating employment, it really is strengthening the community,” Dickins said. “That is where impact came from, we wanted to have a major impact in the community. We have been pleasantly surprised with the number of individual homeowners and other non-profit agencies, who have used our services already.”
Dickins said Impact currently has five employees with plans for growth in the near future. Those individuals have worked particularly hard to quickly grow the reputation of Impact Junk Solutions.
That impact has been forged through the work of the employees, all of who work impressively hard according to the man who sees them on the job every day.
Mark Thibodeau is Impact crew supervisor and said the hard work exhibited by the employees is impressive to see.
“The guys who worked with me, they work like hard. It is unbelievable. It is such a good experience to get out there. What we are doing is a lot of fun,” Thibodeau said. “They guys are just unbelievably happy. They are really, really grateful. I think they are so grateful to have a job. I enjoy it because I know I am doing good for the community.”
That kind of effort, Dickins said, has already created a positive reputation for Impact. And that has, in turn, provided inspiration to not only the employees, but Dickins and — hopefully — the community too.
“The best satisfaction I get is when customers say the level of work is amazing. That the guys even sweep up afterwards. They didn’t expect that,” Dickins said. “That is how we are going to reduce stigma in this community, literally one call at a time, changing one person’s mind at a time.”
Thibodeau agrees, adding he believes it is only “a matter of time” before Impact gets busier, receives more calls for service and even has to look at adding a second truck. Currently, Impact utilizes a single truck. — albeit one with 400 cubic feet of space.
“We wanted to know how we could be different. So we aren’t going to bill by weight, we aren’t going to charge tipping fees,” Dickins said. “Our thought was, let’s get the biggest truck we can maneuver, let’s charge them per load size and when they get quoted a price, then that is what it is. The truck is 400 cubic feet, so we can get a lot into a full load. Stack it high; fill it full, it is pretty wild how much we can get in there.”
Anyone looking to hire Impact can either phone 519-808-5237, or follow the business through Facebook or on Twitter. Dickins said the use of social media is important because Impact doesn’t receive any government funding or subsidy. Therefore, he added, things need to be done as inexpensively as possible.
“We are different from other social enterprises in town; we don’t receive any government funding or subsidy. We don’t use WOTCH budget dollars to operate,” Dickins said. “The message brought to us was if you aren’t making money, you aren’t changing lives; you aren’t doing anything. So we need to be self-sustaining.”
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