Community Support Grant Spotlight article by Rebecca Hedrick, Executive Director, Gateway Industries of Eldon
Gateway Industries, located in Eldon, is an agency that provides employment opportunities for individuals with developmental and physical disabilities. Gateway is one of 91 sheltered workshops in Missouri that together employ more than 6,000 individuals with a disability. Gateway Industries is always looking for new and creative ways to provide meaningful employment for those who are working at Gateway, and in 2008 it was suggested that Gateway start a recycling program given there was not such a program in the Eldon area. In that first year after starting the program, Gateway recycled and diverted approximately 44,500 pounds of paper from local landfills. That first year Gateway provided pick-up services for the local school systems and churches around the Eldon area. Word of a recycling program quickly spread, and Gateway now serves Miller, Morgan, Cole, Camden and Moniteau Counties. The recycling program has expanded to pick up from schools, churches, marinas, gas stations, local food pantries, restaurants, libraries, car dealerships, post offices and local businesses.
Several years ago Gateway Industries staff were made aware of the United Way of Central Missouri’s one-time grant funding made available to central Missouri health and human service agencies to assist with immediate, unmet needs. Over the past two years the agency has been fortunate enough to receive two one-time Community Support Grants from United Way of Central Missouri to help expand Gateway’s recycling program. The Community Support Grant awarded in 2015 provided funding for two 40- foot storage containers that allowed for much needed storage space. In order for Gateway to ship recycling to the main recycling plants, forty three 1000-1500 pound bales are required for each shipment. Storage space at Gateway was very limited, and the purchase of two 40-foot storage containers allowed Gateway to store two separate truck loads at a time – a necessary purchase to expand recycling efforts.
As word spread that Gateway Industries was recycling, the community support grew as evidenced by the number of individuals wanting to drop off recyclables at their facility. However, the available time to do so was limited to open business hours. The second grant awarded in 2016 providing the funding to construct a building to serve as a drop off location for individuals wishing to recycle during daytime, evening, and weekend hours. Since the building was built Gateway has seen an increase in individuals who have started recycling. Thanks to the funding of the United Way Community Support Grants, people in our local community and surrounding areas wishing to recycle can drop off recycling 24 hours a day.
The recycling program has continued to expand over the years. It took from 2008 to 2013 for Gateway to hit its first one million pound mark of recyclables, but thanks to the generosity of our partners like United Way of Central Missouri and the local communities, we were able to recycle another million pounds between the years of 2014 and 2016. Gateway has surpassed the first initial goal set in 2008 to recycle 2 million pounds of paper products and is well on its way to diverting another million from landfills by recycling paper products into reusable products. Equally important, as a result of the increased recycling efforts, an additional five positions have been added for adults with disabilities, and with the help of grants and expansion 20 – 25 employees work on recycling on a daily basis at the Gateway Industries sheltered workshop!
If you would like to contact Gateway Industries about its recycling efforts you can call (573)392-4405, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or keep up with us on Facebook.
Thank you United Way of Central Missouri for providing Gateway Industries the chance to expand and grow its recycling program and the opportunity to provide even more adults with disabilities meaningful employment opportunities.