One of the hurdles most non-profits face is the need for funding, especially new revenue streams that will support or replace other streams that are diminishing. One of the primary hurdles people experiencing homelessness face is unemployment. Although education and re-training can help, a less-than-perfect background can prove to be the toughest hurdle of all. Even if an individual is doing well and has made restitution for past difficulties, employers can be reluctant to hire. For a non-profit like Miracle Hill that serves people experiencing homelessness, a social enterprise is often just what’s needed to overcome unemployment and revenue hurdles.
For decades Miracle Hill Ministries has operated non-profit thrift stores throughout the Upstate. Miracle Hill Thrift is a social enterprise that not only provides revenue but employment opportunities for people coming out the ministry’s shelters and recovery programs. Additionally, thrift donations can be distributed as needed to our shelters and partner organizations (i.e., clothing and furniture).
When it comes to doing good business while doing good for the community, a social enterprise can be a winning combination.
More Than a Job
In 2018, the ministry began looking at starting a for-profit arm that would allow us to operate other types of social enterprises besides thrift…but with a caveat. Any new businesses would have to align with our mission and provide employment opportunities for the people we serve. Miracle Hill Enterprises was born, and the first business launched under the Enterprises umbrella was Bridgeworks, a staffing company. While still in its infancy, it’s proving to be a good fit.
In 2019, Miracle Hill Enterprises launched CreationWorks, a full-service landscaping company serving commercial clients across the Upstate. Bob Hamer, Operations Manager for CreationWorks, shared these insights on how his personal landscaping company transitioned into the CreationWorks social enterprise:
Q: How did you get started in the landscaping business?
A: I started a company called L & B landscaping in April 1996 after discovering the need for lawn services while making Meals on Wheels food deliveries to elderly clients who had no one to cut their grass or the ability to pay for it to be done. The company has been in continuous operations since 1996 serving the greater Greenville area doing both lawn care and landscaping.
Q: Did you expand the company beyond residential services?
A: Yes, some of our bigger accounts included Christ Church Episcopal, the community development department for the City of Greenville, the Greenville County Redevelopment Authority, the Greenville Housing Authority, Genesis homes, and various commercial properties throughout the city.
Q: How did you get connected with Miracle Hill and decide to transition your company?
A: On July 9, 2019 I made the decision to sell the company. On July 13th, I received an email from Rick Ingram, Miracle Hill’s CFO. I have known Rick from church for around 15 years, and we had reconnected earlier in the spring. He asked me if I knew someone who wanted to sell their business and come work for Miracle Hill or if I would be willing to come start up a new division for Miracle Hill.
Q: Why do you think Miracle Hill decided to pursue a landscaping business as a new social enterprise?
A: Landscaping work is accessible to many people who might not have the training or experience to pursue other types of jobs or who have a record that holds them back. But it’s also rewarding work in that employees get to see immediate results from their efforts and the accomplishment of making something better and more beautiful than it was.
Q: What kinds of services does CreationWorks offer?
A: CreationWorks does commercial property maintenance which includes mowing, pruning, mulching, fertilizing and weed control, and property cleanup. We also have the ability to do landscaping, landscape design, irrigation installation and repair, and pressure washing. We try to be a one-stop shop for anything outdoors for our customers.
Q: How has this new opportunity impacted your personally?
A: It’s exciting to be able to help the guests in Miracle Hill’s shelters and provide training and opportunity as they’re going through their struggles and give them some hope for the future — hope of having a good job or a training background to fall back on.
For more information about CreationWorks, contact Bob Hamer at 864.220.9021.