David loves his job because he gets to work in the community where he grew up. As Operations Supervisor of Green Streets—a community owned and operated business that manages recycling and composting in San Francisco—David helps reduce landfill waste by an average of 40 percent. Working in low-income housing developments, Green Streets cuts trash bills, educates neighbors on ways to improve their environment, and diverts thousands of gallons of trash into recycling and compost every month. “I get to give back to the community that’s given a lot to me,” David says. “This job is different than jobs I had in the past because I’m in a supervisory, leadership, position. Green Streets has changed my life not only because it has given me a job, but it has also given me a career.”
Green Streets came into David’s life at a critical time. He was out of work, living on unemployment, and studying for his real estate license when the economy stalled and the bottom fell out of the real estate market. “My unemployment was running out and I didn’t have any prospects for a job,” David says. Now he is responsible for a wide range of duties, from making sure that the clean up crews have supplies to tracking hours and handling payroll. He’s adept at managing all sorts of people, from employees to clients. “I deal with the challenges of this job with a lot of patience and a lot of compassion,” he says. “People perform better when they know the work they do really matters.”
By investing in businesses like Green Streets that allow young entrepreneurs to start a business, lead by example, give back to their communities, and build careers, REDF hopes to help many more people like David. His success shows how much difference a job can make in creating a better future for individuals, their city, and the planet. For others starting out on the same path, David has very practical advice: “Start with the basics. Be polite, be on time, have a good attitude, and that will open a lot of doors for you.”
The Stuart G. Moldaw Step-Up Award is an annual honor, named in memory of one of REDF’s founding board members. The award is given to employees of REDF-supported social enterprises for their tenacity and courage in overcoming significant barriers to employment – like people who have been homeless or in prison, young people who’ve dropped out of school or people with mental health disabilities.