St. Vincent de Paul’s innovative business model has helped it create 450 local jobs.
Changing the Economics of Community Health
The St. Vincent de Paul (SVdP) Society of Lane County, OR offers a unique and innovative approach to improving social welfare; the organization turns others’ trash into revenue-producing businesses, infusing jobs, health care benefits, housing, and other needed services back in to the community.
SVdP’s business model supports itself while breathing new life into recession-struck communities and generating sustainable local jobs for those who traditionally are the hardest to employ. As a result, not only is SVdP Lane County’s largest human services provider—serving more than 70,000 people a year—it is also one of the county’s largest employers with 450 workers, a significant number of whom are ex-offenders, formerly chronically homeless, and people with special needs. These jobs pay good wages and offer health insurance, providing health security for hundreds of families who otherwise might not have it.
Mattress recycling is a growing part of St. Vincent de Paul’s diverse recycling-and-retail enterprise, which fuels a $24 million annual budget. With funding from RWJF, SVdP is mentoring a dozen nonprofits around the country in various stages of launching their own mattress recycling operations. Two – in central Florida and Bridgeport, CT – are up and running, and a third, in Reading, PA, will be soon.
“St. Vincent de Paul has developed a hybrid business-social welfare model that allows us to reenvision how the social safety net functions in communities. The organization serves some of society’s most vulnerable members with a range of supports that help them move up the ladder of independence. Through its innovative waste-based recycling enterprises, it provides training, jobs, and benefits for people who typically are very hard to employ; and it reclaims materials such as mattresses, appliances, and books from the waste stream and recycles them for use or sale. This is a compelling model and more nonprofits should explore it.”
The St. Vincent de Paul Society (SvdP) of Lane County, Oregon offers an innovative new approach to social welfare. By turning others' trash into revenue-producing businesses, SvdP provides needed services to more than 70,000 people each year and provides needed jobs and benefits to those who traditionally are hardest to employ.