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.
Salvage Firm Reclaims Past, Builds Futuresi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
August 07, 2012 4:37 PM
Second Chance, Inc. resells materials from buildings which are slated to be demolished. The company hires and trains disadvantaged members of the community to do the work, giving both the workers, and the material, a second chance. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.

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

Video Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid