By Thea Hassan:
The green demolition team, ReUse Action, is not just salvaging materials, it’s also attempting to salvage lives.
ReUse Action launched a four week apprenticeship program to prepare East Side residents, professionally and emotionally, for entry level jobs. The group is using green demolition as a pathway for the apprentices to change their lives, challenging them to challenge themselves.
Megan McNally, who has been working with the apprentices, said she was impressed by the hardworking, committed trainees.
“The best way to have somebody really love their job is when they feel they are learning every day, learning new things, and getting new aspects of their job, ” said McNally. “That’s what we are trying to do here.”
ReUse Action is a for-profit green demolition and rehabilitation company. The company was started this year by Michael Gainer, founder of Buffalo ReUse. One project planned for this summer is a snack shop made of reprocessed wood on the Buffalo waterfront.
ReUse Action worked with the Outsource Center, an agency that assists intercity residents in finding jobs in the construction industry, to connect with the apprentices. The nine East Side-native apprentices came from unstable backgrounds.
“Events are happening to them, or around them…like their friends are in prison, their sister’s boyfriend just got shot,” said McNally, events that she believes creates a struggle for them to maintain stable living arrangements.
The apprenticeship program was part of the original vision for ReUse Action. The group, all with backgrounds in education, wanted to create a training ground for low skill, high labor jobs, in order to create employment opportunities, according to McNally.
McNally was impressed by 18 year-old trainee, Iris. In a male dominated industry, Iris shrugged off any slack she received, and remained focused on the job. Iris wants to work in healthcare, according to McNally, but is using the program as a stepping-stone to achieve her goals.
Another apprentice, Eddie, 49, was in construction school, and doing small jobs on the side prior to the program. For the most part though, Eddie said, he wasn’t doing anything, nothing productive anyway.
Then he joined ReUse Action.
“It’s beautiful, I love it [the program],” said Eddie. “I’m working, working with a good crew… can’t beat it. Keeps me busy, keeps me out of trouble.”
For the past four weeks, the apprentices have removed 800 pound porcelain tubs, thousands of ceramic tiles from the walls of a century-old hotel, and lugged radiators and doors. McNally said she believes the work helps them “reflect on their role as a citizen, as a coworker, and as a friend for those around them.”
McNally sees the program as beneficial to both ReUse Action and the apprentices.
“All of us see the benefit of teaching people who are eager to learn,” she said, and it helps
ReUse Action connect with the community they are based in. Last week was the final week of the training program, and ReUse Action is now working to find entry-level jobs for their apprentices.
Eddie is just one of the nine hopefuls seeking a job.
“Hopefully, I can get hired,” Eddie said. “Hopefully, everything will work out.”
The apprenticeship program will continue to take on trainees, with seven new apprentices starting soon.
If interested in employing the ReUse Action apprentices, you can contact the Outsource Center, or ReUse Action at firstname.lastname@example.org.