Just a fabulous article about the Mission and recycling! Thank you, Newsminer!
Thank you, Fairbanks Rescue Mission: The borough’s new recycling operation has its roots in South Fairbanks
September 6, 2017
News-Miner opinion: Back in mid-2009, the Fairbanks Rescue Mission started a community recycling program at its site in South Fairbanks, taking paper, cardboard and aluminum that otherwise likely end would up at the Fairbanks North Star Borough landfill.
Community interest in having a consistent place to recycle such regular household and business waste was more than sufficient, evidenced by the milestone reached just 10 months later when the Rescue Mission bundled up its 1 millionth pound of recyclable material.
A forklift operator drove out of the warehouse on that day in June 2010 carrying a bale of newspapers proudly wrapped in plastic and topped with a big red bow, according to a Daily News-Miner account from the time.
The Rescue Mission and the people who have worked in its recycling program over the years since then should be proud today of what they helped achieve in the many years since then.
It’s important to remember the contribution of the Rescue Mission and its executive director, Rodney Gaskins, now that the Fairbanks North Star Borough has become the principal recycling entity in the area. The borough’s Central Recycling Facility opened Sept. 1.
The program came into being not long after Mr. Gaskins, after a couple of years thinking about a recycling program, had dinner on Thanksgiving Day with Mary Walker, project coordinator of Alaska Interfaith Power & Light. The mission of that organization is, according to its website, “to be faithful stewards of Creation by responding to global warming through the promotion of energy conservation, energy efficiency, and renewable energy.”
The Rescue Mission’s recycling effort wasn’t to be just about recycling, however; it was also to be about creating jobs for Rescue Mission residents, people who are homeless and without job skills or going through what they hope is just a temporary rough patch in life. “It will reinstate lost dignity and give the Fairbanks community an opportunity to look at the homeless community in a different way,” Mr. Gaskins said in announcing the program.
The Rescue Mission also got the community to look at recycling in a different way — as something that could actually be viable way up here in the north and a long ways from the processing chain for recyclable materials. It was the Rescue Mission that, through hard work by its residents and eager participation by the community, brought recycling to a consolidated level and created the foundation on which the borough hopes to build.
Mr. Gaskins announced the Rescue Mission’s new recycling program in February 2009 at an interfaith gathering about environmental stewardship and urged support for the vision. He called it a “must win” and told the crowd “I’m depending on you to make it a must win.”
Now, eight years since the Rescue Mission’s operation began and with the borough government running a program that could very well expand further, the result is clear:
The Rescue Mission won’t be out of the recycling picture entirely, however; Rescue Mission residents are the contract workers at the borough’s Central Recycling Facility. Their continued presence will serve as a regular reminder of the program’s origins.