My name is Henry Williams and in my first ever co-op blog post I want to show you all the amazing work I am helping with at Matthew 25 Ministries! This is an organization that collects donations and sends them throughout the world as disaster relief humanitarian aid. I work at their processing center in Cincinnati, Ohio. Below is a photo of boxes full of clothes that will be sent:
(Left: several gaylords on skids filled with clothes about to be moved to the shipping bay.)
A large portion of my work at Matthew 25 Ministries is constructing these boxes, called gaylords, and putting them on the skids so that they can be moved throughout the processing center and filled with the donated items.
(Right: an empty constructed gaylord about to be placed on a skid and put into a line where it will be moved to another section of the processing floor.)
A great percentage of the donated items are clothing, some of which is overstock donated by corporations, and some of which is donated by consumers. Other items include household goods and medical supplies. Matthew 25 Ministries also blends their own paint out of donated paints, and produces rice-soy meals, pencils, and notebooks. I’ve worked in the paint recycling center during my co-op. It was a nice change of pace from working in the processing center. I wasn’t able to photograph the work I did there, because I was wearing a large white painter’s suit that covered my whole body and restricted access to my phone. I can describe the area with words, however. There were many tables where paint cans were taken, opened, and stirred so that they could be mixed into larger vats of paint that they shipped once they were filled up with the mixed assorted paints. Once the cans were emptied, they were taken over to a different spot and put on top of a drip tank to dry.
I’ve also worked compacting trash that they produce and compacting the cardboard that they can no longer use into a bale of cardboard that they can then recycle. Some of the cardboard that didn’t need compacting were used as toppers for the gaylords so that dust didn’t get into the clothes, and then I wrapped the gaylords with plastic wrap so that nothing fell out during the shipping process. You can see in the first picture in my post that some of the gaylords are wrapped, and some still need wrapping. You can also see the cardboard topper that I’m referring to. Below I’ve put a picture of the area where I operated the cardboard baler.
(Right: the cardboard baler and a finished bale of cardboard that can now be moved and recycled.)
I’m proud to have done work here at Matthew 25 Ministries. Not only are they supporting people’s material needs all throughout the world (an interactive map showing the number of shipments they send can be found here: https://m25m.org/work/humanitarian-aid/) but also they are reducing the amount of trash being put into landfills by recycling goods, especially clothes, because the fashion industry produces a huge amount of waste. It has also been a great learning experience to be able to reflect on the personal, local, and global nature of my work here through the Antioch Co-op Work Portfolio class.
I’ve also had the opportunity to do a lot of personal growing. Preforming volunteer work to help others has allowed me to reflect on my purpose in the world, and has given me a great outlet to bring happiness to people, which I consider the most important job of all. The physical nature of the work I am doing has my body growing stronger each day, which feels great. When I’m not on the clock I can be found supporting my family, as well as educating myself by reading, writing, meditating, practicing juggling and learning Spanish. I’m ready to come back to my academic life at Antioch College with a renewed sense of vigor and purpose, preparing for whatever work I will be doing for my next co-op.
Matthew 25 Ministries has been a good environment for me to grow and I’m thankful for the time I’ve spent there, because I know that the work I’ve done has helped many people, even if I will never meet them in the world in the future. Maybe I will though, that’s part of the beauty of the experience, I don’t know who exactly and how many people will be benefited by my work, but I know that I’ve made an impact.
I hope you all have enjoyed hearing about my co-op experience at Matthew 25 Ministries, I am glad to have been able to share it with you!