Fresh Start - Building Furniture, Rebuilding Lives

by FRESH START PALLET PRODUCTS INC.
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Fresh Start - Building Furniture, Rebuilding Lives
Fresh Start - Building Furniture, Rebuilding Lives
Fresh Start - Building Furniture, Rebuilding Lives
Fresh Start - Building Furniture, Rebuilding Lives
Fresh Start - Building Furniture, Rebuilding Lives
Fresh Start - Building Furniture, Rebuilding Lives
Fresh Start - Building Furniture, Rebuilding Lives
Fresh Start - Building Furniture, Rebuilding Lives
Fresh Start - Building Furniture, Rebuilding Lives

FRESH START ACADEMY

We referenced the start up of a new formalized training program in the last report. We are excited to report that we have been approved for funding of a newe initiative called the Fresh Start Academy. This program will dramatically increase our capacity to train an addtional 24 individuals a year, with an opportunity to increase that number in 2022. The Academy will be launched in August. 

Given the need in the community to find trained individuals with carpentry skills this program is consitant with creating opportunities for a trained workforce who will be available for community employment as the economy recovers from the pandemic and futher our goal of "Building Furniture / Rebuilding Lives". We will continue to keep our friends, donors and volunteers updated on the growth and outcomes of the new Fresh Start Academy.

Trends on the workshop floor: Over time sales of our furniture has evolved to building more custom products. Two contracts are significant in a couple of ways, one size and design and secondly, design and buyer. Below there are pictures of two products that illustrate the growing skills of our team and how the addition of more sophisticated equipment plays a role the outcomes. These products also illustrate the importance of grants to support specific needs.

Building large projects can be expensive, but improving the sophisitcation of our equipment not only widens our training capacity but also allows us to be more efficient and price competitive in the market place. The bookcase pictured (unpainted at the time of the photo) is the largest custom piece we've produced and one of the most complicated. A generous grant provided the funds to purchase and install a new sliding table saw that insures we are cutting large pieces of wood within close tolerances. (see pic of new saw) We want thank NINA, a local noprofit focusing on affordable housing, and a corporate partner to Fresh Start for their generous donation. 

Second is a newly designed and robust set of Arbors for another corporate partner, Cape Cod Fence Company located in Avon, Ct. We have been under contract with Cape Cod for several years and this year we have been able to expand this relationship by providing a variety of backyard furniture like wooden benches, chairs, and tables. We are excited to expanded into selling them this new product pictured below.

We want to close with a thank you to our donors who supported us during GlobalGiving's most recent on-line giving event, the July Bonus Day. The generosity of our donors is a conorstone to our continued work.

In our next report we will share the story of a current project with Grace Lutheran Church located in Hartford, Ct as they pursue a large restoration of the grounds of the Church including a large variety of our outdoor furniture as they pursue an effort to create a new look and inviting space for the community.

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Fresh Start Pallet Products, Inc. had a great year in 2020 in spite of the pandemic. Our team stayed healthy, productive and made advances in their personal lives and individual carpentry skill levels.

This has set the stage for our Social Business to expand in three areas:

  • Adding a highly trained and skilled professional Shop Supervisor/lead trainer. Colin came to us with significant skills in carpentry, furniture restoration and design. This is an opportunity for us to increase the quality of our finished products and broaden our capacity.
  • We now have a well trained core team of craftsmen to support our ever-growing orders for core products, custom work and contract work. 
  • Due to our success in doubling our sales over 2019, we have also doubled our fundraising income due to our many donors with assistance from GlobalGiving. As a result, we are in the process of preparing to open the Fresh Start Academy. This program will support our goal of scaling up the number of trainees we can support and help - while assisting workforce storages in the building trades of Connecticut. Watch for future communications as this new initiaive takes shape. 

Our future success is tied directly to our sustainability goals for 2021. We want to thank our customers, donors, and all of our volunteers for their combined comittment to Fresh Start where we "Build Furniture, while Rebuilding Lives" .

- From the Fresh Start Team

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The tagline for our organization, “Building Furniture, Rebuilding Lives,”describes our mission, our passion, and the outcome of our work at Fresh Start Pallet Products, Inc. This summer was a period of growth for producing new furniture and for increasing sales of our Core, Custom, and Contract work. That growth has enabled us to add additional employment trainees and to increase our capacity.

Balancing our growth with COVID-19 has been challenging. But, thus far, we’ve succeeded in keeping the virus from entering our doors. Training is particularly challenging because of the nature of our work because social distancing and wearing masks make it difficult to train people to operate machines and power tools that require diligent focus on safety and precision.

Our internal metrics are very encouraging. Thanks to our partnership with GlobalGiving and the generous donations of our other contributors, we’ve been able to double our sales income this calendar year and to increase the number of people we’re able to train to meet that sales demand. That’s helping us shift the balance of our income sources from gift dollars to dramatic increases in earned income; therefore,our year-end projections drive us closer to becoming more self-sustaining. We’re excited about new training opportunities for 2021 and remain resolute in maintaining a healthy and safe environment until all the COVID-19 challenges start to recede.

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The Covid-19 virus has impacted Fresh Start Pallet Products in Hartford, CT in ways similar to most non-profits. Like so many challenges we've faced over the years we have adapted to the changing workplace environment. When the various "stay at home" governmental directives started rolling out we initially thought we would need to close the program.

However, like other businesses we have found ways to ensure we could legally remain open. In short we found that we qualified as an "essential" business in one area of our training and production operations. We were fortunate in that our contracts with the new Parkville Market in Hartford, CT fit the requirements. Parkville when fully operational will be the first Food Hall in the state. While their needs changed from indoor dining to curbside food pick-up, to this week of allowing the Market to expand to outside dining and limited indoor dinning. As the opening of CT has progressed we have worked very hard to produce new products for them and at the same time increased our training opportunities for our trainee/workers.

Not only has this challenge hit during the Covid-19 crisis we needed to be flexible with two of our Syrian Muslim refugees during Ramadan. Providing flexible working hours to ensure they can practice their faith has proven invaluable for their dietary needs and sleep patterns.

Fresh Start's income comes primarily from fundraising supported by GlobalGiving and the sales of furniture that is the end product of our training, thus making our Parkville Market relationship even more critical.

In short, the community partnership with Parkville Market and its owner Mr. Mouta and his team has been a lifeline to our survival during these challenging times. Though difficult at times, Fresh Start is stronger today than we could have ever imagined.

The shout out for this report is a 'THANK YOU TO OUR HEROES AT THE PARKVILLE MARKET AND GLOBAL GIVING WHEN WE NEEDED IT MOST" !!!

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Mike
Mike

Building Furniture, Rebuilding Lives.

The goals and objectives of Fresh Start Pallet Products, Inc are being met and exceeded in several ways through our association with GlobalGiving.org. Lead by volunteers, Fresh Start has been working to train those who face homelessness, alcoholism and drug addiction in Hartford, Ct. As a Social Enterprise we rely on the sale of furniture and fundraising as the major sources of our income. New directions in our training, marketing and sales are now paying off. We are working hard to create a new approach to training our program participants, serving more individuals the creation of the Fresh Start Academy. Fresh Start has also rebalanced its approach to product sales by expanding our sales approach from focusing primarily on core products to also include contract work in partnership with local retail companies and creating custom products for our customers. The 3 C’s approach has improved our total sales revenue significantly.

We are also seeing great outcomes for our trainee/employees. For example, Mike who has been in our program for more than a year and one half will be a new trainee mentor in the new Fresh Start Academy. In addition, he is actively pursuing the rental of his own apartment as he leaves his current residential treatment program. Without a stable income this move would not be possible.

We also want to remind our friends and donors that GlobalGiving has provided our only online giving platform for Fresh Start for the last 4 months. As a partner we have increased our donor base significantly and in that period on time we have raised over $37,000 through online giving. We want to thank their support and look forward to a long and fruitful partnership. In December and January, we are exceeding our individual giving goals over last year by 60%!

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Organization Information

FRESH START PALLET PRODUCTS INC.

Location: Hartford, CT - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Project Leader:
Richard Carman
Hartford, CT United States
$82,873 raised of $100,000 goal
 
397 donations
$17,127 to go
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