change lives.

Changing a community, one life at a time

At Outflow, we believe that one life can change a community.

In our work, we see this play out time and again – people who, through their own commitment and vision, can transform lives and contribute to a better world.

Since we began our outreach ministry in 2008 with a meal program in King’s Square in Saint John, growing next to a men’s homeless shelter, and a small dental clinic, we have seen small but inspiring examples from recognizing the dignity and potential of others.

We have seen how empowering others in that way can make the community around us a better place. The success of this grassroots approach led us to create Catapult Construction along with Catapult Coffee and Studio, businesses founded on the belief that renewing lives and restoring hope can be transformative.

We had the good fortune one day to meet Ryan Mitchell, the vice-president of Saint John Energy. Ryan had visited our coffee shop, knew of our mission, and noticed some of the crafts made from recycled materials for sale.

A first for us

He began to wonder if there was any potential for Catapult and Saint John Energy to work together. His mind turned to the copper wire that the company accumulates and recycles.

That kicked off a series of discussions that culminated in a project that was a first for us – a collaboration with Saint John Energy and others to strip some 10,000 pounds of copper wiring.

It was a novel idea for both us and Saint John Energy, which normally sells the wiring to recyclers unstripped. In stripping it, the wiring is transformed into pure copper, fetching a higher price.

Catapult could have the wire for the unstripped price, provide employment in stripping off the coating, then sell the copper for the higher price. At the end of the day, we could have some extra money to put toward our other community support programs.

Innovative partnership

Ryan had a great idea here, and it seemed like a perfect fit for us – plus a chance to work with Saint John Energy, a company known for being an innovative community leader.

Fortunately for us, we had the perfect person to take on the project – Catapult Construction supervisor Wayne Batchelor.

Wayne has been stripping wire for years – “usually by hand off my knee with a knife,” he says. “Suffered a few cuts over the years, but I’ve got it down to a science.”

When we first met Wayne at Outflow about 10 years ago, he had spent more than 30 years of his life in prison and was in active addiction. A few years after we first met him through our meal program, he began volunteering with our mission. Through that work, we could see the change in him – he was motivated to change, to be a better person.

We offered him a job through Catapult Construction, and he hasn’t looked back – telling others that it has been transformative for him.

‘Broken man….’

“I’m a broken man with a broken body, but I love getting up every morning to go to work. You know, I say now I’m a life-turn with Outflow,” he once told an interviewer. “They not only saved my life, they’re also my friends.”

We set Wayne to the task but soon realized we needed a specialized wire stripper to get through it all – and that it would cost thousands of dollars.

Incredibly, Saint John Energy had partners that were willing to help.

CT Sales, an Atlantic Canadian representative for manufacturers of electrical power system products that works closely with Saint John Energy, rallied Marmon Utility in New Hampshire, Megger Canada and Cam Tran of Sackville, N.B. to the cause.

Partners jumped aboard

All four companies joined together to fund a E2000X StripMeister for Catapult so that Wayne could strip the heavy plastic coating off the wire.

“The cause was a good one – that was worth it, just with that,” says Matt Ross, the New Brunswick territory manager for CT Sales. “Another powerful reason was that Saint John Energy was involved in it. An opportunity to support them like this was inspiring to us.”

Another of Saint John Energy’s partners that was instrumental to making all this happen was Simpson Scrap Metal Recycling in Saint John, which jumped aboard to haul the wire to and from the warehouse where Wayne was set up to strip it.

“I was impressed because they more or less had one guy out there doing it and they put a lot of effort into it,” Doug says. “If someone is willing to work that hard and advance themselves, I have no problem helping them as best I can.”

Fitting for Saint John, even the use of that warehouse was donated to us.

Endgame is giving back

For Wayne, this was a very exciting project because it meant ensuring the masses of wiring were being recycled into something more valuable – and the proceeds would go to something beneficial for the community.

He was definitely a man on a mission, and keen to get to work.

“It’s something I enjoyed very much. There’s a satisfaction to it, but it’s also that the endgame is giving back – giving back to the community in terms of whatever profits go back into the Outflow,” he says. “For me, that was a big part of it. When I went there and I put an eight-hour day in, it didn’t seem like eight hours at all.”

At the end of the project, after paying Wayne and any other expenses, we realized thousands of dollars in profit – money that we can use to help people most in need through our acts of kindness ministry, for instance assisting people short on food or rent.

Saint John Energy’s vision 

None of this could have been possible without Saint John Energy, without Ryan and his vision for the project and commitment to it, or without their partners.

This is a breakthrough for us.

While we work with a lot of individuals and businesses who support us, this is the first time we have had a company come to us and look to partner with us on a vision that fits within our mission.

And more exciting than that for us, Saint John Energy has made it clear that they are interested in exploring other opportunities with us – opportunities that hold the potential to provide employment, to support our programs and people and enhance the community.

Growing the community

Ryan was unassuming when we asked why.

“For Saint John Energy, this fits perfectly with our belief about supporting and growing the community. The wire stripping project gives a hand up, providing employment. It’s good for our business, for Outflow and for the Saint John region,” he says.

“It was a very positive experience. We’re keen to look at how we can grow this partnership that has been created, and how we can get more businesses and organizations involved.”

Thank you, Ryan. We could not agree more.

As we’ve been growing our grassroots missions, what has never changed is our commitment to our Christian values and what we believe: that every person has worth, has the potential to achieve and grow, and to change the community around them.

To us, this wonderful project – and the potential it holds for the future – is a testament to that belief.


Photo captions: Top, left, the Outflow crew: Catapult Construction Supervisor Wayne Batchelor with Phil Appleby and Jayme Hall, Co-executive directors of Outflow. Photo at top right: Saint John Energy Vice-President Ryan Mitchell with Outflow Co-Executive Director Jayme Hall.