News / USA

Salvage Firm Reclaims Past, Builds Futures

Workers from Second Chance remove all usable material from a log cabin scheduled to be torn down. (J. Taboh/VOA)
Workers from Second Chance remove all usable material from a log cabin scheduled to be torn down. (J. Taboh/VOA)
A deconstruction crew is removing all of the usable material from a  two-story log cabin which is scheduled to be torn down. The men work for a nonprofit organization in Baltimore, Maryland, which specializes in salvaging windows, appliances and people's lives.

Second Chance, Inc. resells materials from buildings which are slated to be demolished. The company hires and trains the most disadvantaged members of the community to do the work, giving both the workers, and the material, a second chance.
 
Second chances

At the cabin in a quiet neighborhood near Washington, D.C., the Second Chance crew carefully extracts the wood floors and wall panels, removing the interior doors and frames, the kitchen cabinets and all the kitchen and bathroom appliances.

“We’re giving new life to older material which may in a lot of cases wind up in a dump and never be reused,” says Jim Russell, project manager for Second Chance.

While the business gives materials a second chance, it also believes in giving people that opportunity as well. The nonprofit uses sites like this to train people in the art of deconstruction.

Russell says the workers have faced challenges in life and often just need a helping hand.

"They come to Second Chance for that opportunity,” he says.“We bring people in and teach them a skill to enable them to learn a little bit about construction; the way a house is built,” says Russell. “And if you know how it’s built, you know how to take it down properly, safely.”

New beginnings

Clarence White, one of the men hired and trained to do this delicate work, is learning how to safely and skillfully remove the lumber and stone, and take apart the kitchen and bathrooms.

For White, working with Second Chance has been a life-changing experience.

“Beforehand I was selling drugs, doing all the wrong things," he says. "I went to prison, I came home and was looking for a job and a lot of jobs weren’t hiring me. Second Chance provided that opportunity. They believed in me and I went from not feeling confident, feeling like I can’t get a job, I cannot do this, I cannot do that, feeling limited, to feeling limitless.”

In addition to job training, the company also provides life skills workshops.
Second Chance
Second Chancei
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X


White has opened a bank account and moved into his own place. But more importantly he says, “I’m able to provide for my daughter and give her a better life.”

Another benefit for the men working at Second Chance is the bond that’s created between those who have gone through similar life challenges, and the feeling of camaraderie that has generated.

“I love working with all these guys," says Joshua Watson, who's been working at Second Chance for nine months. "They’re like brothers. I’m going to get married in a couple of months and all these guys are going to be my groomsmen.”

New foundations

Once the men have completed their 16-week training program they are guaranteed a job with the company. However, according to project manager Jim Russell, many move on to other opportunities.
The Second Chance Warehouse in Baltimore, Maryland, contains everything from doors and floors to furnishings and other household items reclaimed from homes slated to be restored, renovated or demolished. (J. Taboh/VOA)The Second Chance Warehouse in Baltimore, Maryland, contains everything from doors and floors to furnishings and other household items reclaimed from homes slated to be restored, renovated or demolished. (J. Taboh/VOA)
x
The Second Chance Warehouse in Baltimore, Maryland, contains everything from doors and floors to furnishings and other household items reclaimed from homes slated to be restored, renovated or demolished. (J. Taboh/VOA)
The Second Chance Warehouse in Baltimore, Maryland, contains everything from doors and floors to furnishings and other household items reclaimed from homes slated to be restored, renovated or demolished. (J. Taboh/VOA)

“We’ve got guys who have become apprentice electricians, some of them have gone on to become truck drivers, some of them have come to me and asked me for guidance on maybe starting their own home improvement business, and if I can help them out in any way, I try to.”

But the task at hand today at the log cabin is to prepare the first stack of materials to be shipped out.

Eventually, the wood flooring, wall panels and doors, along with kitchen and bathroom appliances, will be trucked to the Second Chance warehouse in Baltimore. They will join chandeliers, antiques and small household items to be sold at a big discount to people looking to renovate a room or build an entire house.

Those sales help fund the job training program.

Mark Foster, the founder and president of Second Chance, which has trained more than five dozen men since it began in 2003, believes his employees recognize this may be their best chance at a new life.

“The training program here is not just about how to pull nails,” he says. “It’s about how to be a productive member of society, how to get some skill sets that you wouldn’t have had before.”

“Materials are certainly important to us as a society,” adds Foster, “but the people are really the thing that should drive us the most, giving those people opportunities that they otherwise wouldn't have.”

As the last of the log cabin is removed to make way for a new home to be built, Clarence White looks forward to building on the foundation of his new life.

"I can see myself being a happy old man one day,” he says. “Before I couldn’t see it; now I see it. It’s a good thing. It’s a great thing.”

You May Like

Australia-Cambodia Resettlement Agreement Raises Concerns

Agreement calls for Cambodia to accept refugees in return for $35 million in aid and reflects Australia’s harder line approach towards asylum seekers and refugees More

India Looks to Become Arms Supplier Instead of Buyer

US hopes India can become alternative to China for countries looking to buy weapons, but experts question growth potential of Indian arms industry More

Earth Day Concert, Rally in Washington

President Obama also took up the issue Saturday in his weekly address, saying there 'no greater threat to our planet than climate change' More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs