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.
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" !!!
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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