On any given night in America, anywhere from 700,000 to 2 million people have nowhere to sleep. This year an estimated 3.5 million Americans will find themselves homeless and over 40% of them will be children. Due to the recent foreclosure crisis, homelessness has been on the rise and remains an issue of deep concern.
In 2011 the Syracuse University Students In Free Enterprise team wanted to tackle the issue of homelessness in their own backyard. In an effort to combat this local struggle, the team partnered with The Rescue Mission of Central New York. The Mission’s goal is to help people in need find a warm bed, a hot meal and a way towards independence through faith and guidance. The Mission often takes a huge part in restoring those with broken lives find a new outlook on life.
Last year the Mission served over a quarter of a million meals at their food service center and provided over 70,000 nights of emergency shelter to the homeless. In addition the Mission runs a Day Center, which is their front door to hope — a place where people in need can get a shower, meals, clothing and shelter along with employment and health advice - seven days a week.
The Rescue Mission funds 60% of its operations with the income from its 12 Thrifty Shopper stores, which sell donated clothing and household items directly to the public.
The Syracuse University SIFE Team’s goal was to not only aid the Rescue Mission in impacting these people’s lives, but they also wanted to help improve the Mission’s business profitability. In trying to do so, the SIFE team saw an opportunity to help the Rescue Mission improve its supply chain and retail operations by addressing 3 key areas:
The organization of the Warehouse facility;
The flow of goods from the Donation Centers to the Stores;
The sorting of the merchandise itself
The team reorganized the warehouse staff to help make their operations more efficient. ?They also analyzed the Rescue Mission’s trucking routes and created a more efficient shipping schedule. Once the Supply Chain operation was in place, the team then focused on the retail side of the operations. They helped the organization rethink their store layouts and pricing policies.
51 SIFErs devoted 782 hours and cleared over 400 Gaylords of unsorted goods. They generated an additional $450,000 dollars translating into over 200,000 meals for the hungry or 10,000 warm beds for those with nowhere to sleep.
Since Syracuse University SIFE started working with the Rescue Mission of Central New York, they have not only had the opportunity to aid the community of which they are a part, but they have also seen the personal impact their actions can have on individual lives.
SU-SIFE: “A head for business. A heart for the world.”