Reprinted Letter to the Editor, Ipswich Chronicle, January 6, 2010

Resident starts social good enterprise

To the editor:

As one year draws to an end and the New Year is upon us, I want to share an important element of my new social enterprise startup.

In case the term is new to you, a “social enterprise” serves a social and environmental mission within a financially self-sustaining business model, as opposed to funding through annual grant seeking. Basically, it’s using business to serve a values-based mission — the heart of a non-profit, head of a for-profit.

Specifically, Time Well Spent is planned as an Eco-Arts & Creative Repurposing, Community Enrichment Center. My mission is to help people help others and the environment, while improving the quality of their own daily lives in the process.

The vehicle for my mission is our collective clutter. We are taking that which is constantly getting in our way — creating barriers to our daily goals and adding to our stress — and putting it to good use.

While keeping the clutter out of the waste stream, we’ll be using our “extra stuff” and rescued salvage to create repurposed art and functional products in a workshop setting. We’ll also be working hard to get our usable extras into the hands of those in need.

Given Time Well Spent’s mission and method, service-learning opportunities abound at Time Well Spent. When community-service opportunities include an understanding of the underlying needs that exist, the plan for helping, and the assessment of the benefits of the volunteer activity, that’s service learning! When the community service is in an area of interest for the volunteer, excitement for both learning and service are fueled.

Ipswich High School students, particularly juniors searching for a meaningful community-service experience, are encouraged to consider volunteering their time to a project of their choosing at Time Well Spent. The volunteer opportunities at Time Well Spent can be divided into two categories: DeClutter For Good and Recycle For Good.

While Time Well Spent is still in its start-up phase overall, the “donations to charity” part of the business model is in full swing in the form of monthly DeClutter For Good donation drives. Currently Time Well Spent is wrapping up 2009 DeClutter For Good drives that included books and business attire. Students who need to add a few hours to their community service requirement or to add to the community service portion of their resume for college (including current seniors) can volunteer a few hours of their time in the next couple of weeks.

The year 2010 will be filled with monthly donation drives, starting with a warm clothing drive in January for Massachusetts children in need. Individuals and groups interested in DeClutter For Good donation drive volunteer opportunities in 2010, as well as businesses interested in worthwhile, socially-responsible sponsorship options, are encouraged to contact me. With support, I’d love to hold new DeClutter For Good donation drives for such things as bicycles, computer equipment, gardening equipment and more.

Also in 2010, I hope to begin to Recycle For Good. Recycling For Good will be an ongoing program at Time Well Spent using an envisioned space I refer to as “The Wall – where recycling is taken beyond the curb!” Items that are typically put in the recycling bin or the trash will be collected and directed to organizations that serve people in need or the environment.

Service learning opportunities of the Recycle For Good type will be start-to-finish projects that include research, awareness building, collection drives and delivery or shipping — with learning and understanding every step of the way. Volunteers can focus on topics that spark an interest in them —and it is at that union of action and passion where lasting learning occurs.

 The Recycle for Good Wall projects are ideal for volunteer groups of three to five students to undertake, each volunteer contributing with a part of the overall project, drawing on their individual strengths and interest area.

Here are just three Recycle For Good focus areas:

Medicine Bottles for distribution of HIV medication in Africa (interest in medicine, women, children, global issues); Beanie Babies to soldiers to give to kids in Iraq and Afghanistan (interest in military, children, global issues, beanie baby lovers); cell phone collection for redistribution to various service organizations (interest in military, women, children, cell phone lovers).

To learn more about volunteer service learning at Time Well Spent, students, groups of students, their parents and anyone interested in learning more, all are encouraged to contact me at Nancy@timewellspentonline.com or visit my blog http://www.twsblog.wordpress.com.

Nancy Darcy Gallant

2 Roberts Road

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