October 15, 2021 • Betty Brandt

The plain beige trailer in St. Luke’s back parking lot could easily be overlooked. Inside the west end is a jumble of old computers, TVs, lamps, vacuum cleaners – anything with a cord. It looks like junk but actually it is on its way to becoming something useful again thanks to RecyleForce. 

RecycleForce is 501(c)3 social enterprise focused on the re-entry of returning citizens from incarceration. It is committed to reducing crime through employment and job training, while improving the environment through electronics recycling. Since 2006, RecycleForce has safely recycled more than 65 million pounds of electronic waste while providing job training to thousands of returning citizens. 

St. Luke’s has had a relationship with RecycleForce ever since I met its CEO Gregg Keesling on a mission trip to Jamacia in 2008. On numerous occasions he has come to St. Luke’s to tell the story of his company and now he has an even bigger story to tell. On October 13, 2021, RecycleForce broke ground for a new 102,500 square foot facility at Sherman Park on the Eastside of Indianapolis. 

When this new facility opens in a year, they will be able to recycle 12 million pounds of electronic waste per year and provide transitional employment, training and support services to 600 individuals annually as they reenter the community from incarceration. 

RecyleForce wraps its arms around these returning citizens. It helps them get reconnected to their children, open bank accounts, get to their parole officer meetings and more. The programming at RecycleForce reduces recidivism and prevents violent crime by providing high risk individuals a wage paying job immediately upon release in an environment that allows them to meet the restrictive obligations of criminal justice oversight. Each workday begins in a circle of trust where people support each other and learn to ask for the help they want and need. Maybe for the first time in their lives these men and women have people they can rely on to care about what happens to them and offer the hand of friendship. It’s a beautiful thing!! It’s more than a job!! It’s a community!!  

Some of the money saved in the 2020 LED sanctuary lighting project will go to support the work of RecycleForce. You can support them by bringing anything with a cord to that plain beige trailer in the back parking lot. The door is open 24/7. Please throw stuff in the back bins first so we can maximize the available space. Please do not bring toxic materials, paint, carpeting or clothing. If you are bringing anything with a cathode ray tube, please make a $15 donation (cash or make checks payable to St. Luke’s with “Creation Care” on the memo line). This is what RecycleForce charges us to dispose of these items. In 2020 RecycleForce made 20 trips to St. Luke’s to pick up e-waste. The net weight hauled away was 40,465 lbs.  Help us increase that number in 2021 and for years to come. 

Learn more about RecycleForce and see the list of what can be recycled.

Betty Brandt